Health literacy is a major issue in American health. Health literacy pertains to how patients obtain, understand, and use health information, as well as how medical professionals communicate medical information to their patients and the public. The economic costs of health literacy are conservatively estimated at over $70 billion annually in the United States. With recent alterations to the JCAHO standards, as well as pressure from new medical reimbursement legislation, the economics of health communication are only increasing in importance. More importantly though, is the human impact health literacy issues have on Americans. One in seven Americans struggle t read their prescription labels, and over 70 million U.S. adults have limited health literacy. Within the American medical system, there is often an information overload. It is often not too difficult to find health information, whether from a professional, commercial, the Internet, or a friend. The difficulty is finding useful, accurate, information that is in a relevant and useful form for the individual. While health literacy issues affect all demographic groups, certain demographic segments of the population suffer the most. The poor, minorities, the elderly, single mothers, and immigrants all have statistically lower health literacy than other population groups. Often, these groups already struggle to find health care, information, or access, and therefore health literacy concerns only worsen an already difficult situation. Even those who are health literate rely on clear communication sometimes, as studies have shown health literacy to decrease in times of stress, such as when someone is sick, or a loved one is ill. Overall, health literacy is important because without it the medical system cannot function effectively or efficiently. Health literacy is a major problem that is exacerbated by widening cultural miscommunication issues, significant education issues, and the aging American population.
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McNabb, Doug; Prasla, Aliya; Corey, Mary C.; and Gayer, Matt, "Health Literacy Dallas" (2012). Big iDeas 2012 Proposals. 1.