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Health Care Literacy

Know the Facts: Health Literacy.

Health literacy is the ability to read, understand and act on health information. 

Health literacy is more than measuring reading skills – it relates to listening, speaking and conceptual knowledge – and low health literacy can affect any population segment, regardless of age, race, education or income.

Based on National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) data, we know that:
    • Nearly half of the U.S. adult population (90 million people) have low functional health literacy


    • 11 million adults are non-literate in English


  • 7.8 million seniors can only perform the most simple and concrete literacy skills
Low health literacy can lead to negative health outcomes. Adults with low health literacy:
    • Are often less likely to comply with prescribed treatment and self-care regimens


    • Make more medication or treatment errors


    • Fail to seek preventive care


    • Are at a higher risk for hospitalization than people with adequate literacy skills


    • Remain in hospital nearly 2 days longer


  • Lack the skills needed to negotiate the health care system

NJAHP recognizes that health literacy is a widespread and often unrecognized challenge to achieving better health outcomes and controlling costs. Many of our member plans have resources to help healthcare providers and consumers with the challenges of health literacy.

Helpful Links & Resources: