According to a recent survey conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research (with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation), about half of health consumers with private insurance admit to not fully knowing what their benefits cover. Due to poor healthcare literacy, patients may forego or delay care until their conditions become serious, and may also not be prepared to manage their out-of-pocket responsibilities when they do use services.
The good news is that organizations can take steps to improve consumers’ healthcare literacy. Here are a few suggestions from a recent post by O’Dwyer’s:
- Create and provide a glossary of healthcare/insurance terms. Put together a list of commonly misunderstood terms and define them in a way your patient population will understand.
- Promote transparency. Identifying exact out-of-pocket costs upfront can be challenging, but the list of tools to help providers access such information is growing. Most recently, the state of Massachusetts began mandating health insurers to post costs of medical procedures for their enrollees.
- Eliminate embarrassment. Keep patients and consumers involved in their care. Use games, videos, or blogs to educate people.
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