Boomers Need to Improve on their Health Literacy

1 – May27 – Boomers Need to Improve on their Health Literacy– Blog

Health literacy: as defined by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, Title V, is the degree to which a person has the capacity and ability to find, interpret, comprehend, and take action on basic health information and processes to make proper health and care decisions.

But how does this form of literacy connect to one’s finances? Simply put, an individual with adequate health literacy skills is more likely to avoid spending for medical bills – a significant benefit to hold onto, especially for those who belong to the baby boom generation.

As such, we’d like to take the opportunity to discuss more on how boomers can improve this much-needed facet of life. And in connection with our previous post, 3 Ways that Medigap Insurance Will Address Health Care Financing, we will connect how insurance policies can help individuals improve their health literacy. Here are a few pointers:

Figuring Out the Numbers

Let’s check some important figures or statistics when understanding health literacy:

According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL), only 12% of adults in the country have proficient health literacy skills. This small amount pales in comparison to:

  • 14% with below basic health literacy skills
  • 21% with basic health literacy skills
  • 53% with intermediate health literacy skills

As such, more than half of the population (and rising in number) have poor basic health literacy skills. And in these numbers result to these repercussions (as revealed by an American Medical Association study):

  • Higher mortality rates
  • More emergency room visits
  • More hospital stays/confinement
  • Lesser compliance to doctors’ advice and compliance to given treatment plans

Additionally, most of the hospital visits/procedures were noticed to be unnecessary. This, as a result, means wasting hard-earned money on often expensive medical bills. And with the rise of healthcare cost and other retirement expenses, securing finances should definitely be prioritized.

Avenues to Learn and Excel

But how can a boomer learn to improve? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cited several strategies for one to consider:

Keep in Mind the Five Talking Points

  • Nine out of 10 adults find it hard to comprehend and use health information when it is unfamiliar, or complex.
  • Limited health literacy costs the healthcare system money and results in higher rates of morbidity and mortality.
  • Health literacy can be improved if clear communication strategies are practiced.
  • When we say clear communication, it means using familiar concepts, words, and visual aids presented in ways that make sense to individuals who need the information.
  • Testing information with an audience before release (and as well asking for feedback) should be done to find out if the literature is effective.

These five points should always be considered when deciding to improve on health literacy. Additionally, the next points will help a person find out if the literature he or she is checking is valid:

Keep in Mind the Three A’s

  • Accurate – health literature should be backed with relevant and up-to-date data.
  • Accessible – consider the place/avenue health information is sourced out. For online information, make sure to double-check for resources and such to confirm the information.
  • Actionable – information is always useful, but with no ready instruction or call-to-action, then it can very well be considered irrelevant.

Aside from these CDC guidelines, make sure to ask around for health literacy resources. Employees have the right to know if the company they’re working for has a program that will help them for this matter. Additionally, local government programs and support groups may be available to help provide the necessary tools and contribute to improving on this skillset.

When Insurance Policies Can Make a Big Difference

Another (and beneficial) way to boost your literacy on health is through insurance. Inquiring about coverage and learning of the many benefits you can gain can be a gateway for you to find out more about the healthcare industry.

An example on this would be Medicare Supplements. Also known as Medigap, this form of insurance identifies and addresses baby boomers and healthcare needs, by helping pay for out-of-pocket costs not covered by Original Medicare Plans. With ten standardized plans to choose from, an applicant now has the opportunity to learn and identify possible scenarios on how the healthcare system works.

We hope that you get the chance to improve your health literacy. Doing so will not only assure you of great health. It’ll do a whole lot of good for your savings as well!

Do you have suggestions or thoughts you’d want to share on this topic? Please leave a comment below!

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