Essay on Health Literacy

776 Words Sep 28th, 2010 4 Pages
Health Literacy
Health illiteracy has become referred to as the silent epidemic. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, the National Assessment of Adult Literacy showed only 12 percent of adults have proficient health literacy. That means nine out of ten adults may lack the needed skills to adequately manage their health and prevent disease.
Healthy People 2010 define health literacy as “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health care related decisions.” These are the skills that people need to find the right place in the hospital, fill out insurance forms, and communicate appropriately with
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“It was estimated in 1998 that between $35-73 billion was wasted in prolonged hospital stays and frequent doctors visits related to low health literacy” (Ickes, MEd & Cottrell, DEd, CHES, 2010, p. 492). With all of the previously mentioned problems of poor health literacy, individuals who fall into these categories are also more likely to die at an early age. Is there a solution to this costly societal problem? The long-term solution rests in the hands of health education beginning in kindergarten and continuing throughout college. We need more community involvement with this issue. It not only affects the health illiterate but those that are very health literate. It raises the costs of health care enormously. Despite massive technological advances and that we spend twice as much per capita on healthcare in the United States, we remain one of the unhealthiest nations in the world. Low health literacy contributes to our grim future. We have high rates of infant mortality; increased mortality related to chronic, preventable disease processes; and cancer mortality could be greatly reduced by early detection.
Health literacy is both a consumer and public healthcare issue. As a health care provider, it is not only my responsibility to ensure that you understand your health and what is going on
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