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Health Aff (Millwood). 2012 Feb;31(2):434-43. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2011.1169. Epub 2012 Jan 18.

New federal policy initiatives to boost health literacy can help the nation move beyond the cycle of costly 'crisis care'.

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  • 1Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Washington, DC, USA. Howard.Koh@HHS.gov

Abstract

Health literacy is the capacity to understand basic health information and make appropriate health decisions. Tens of millions of Americans have limited health literacy--a fact that poses major challenges for the delivery of high-quality care. Despite its importance, health literacy has until recently been relegated to the sidelines of health care improvement efforts aimed at increasing access, improving quality, and better managing costs. Recent federal policy initiatives, including the Affordable Care Act of 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services' National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy, and the Plain Writing Act of 2010, have brought health literacy to a tipping point-that is, poised to make the transition from the margins to the mainstream. If public and private organizations make it a priority to become health literate, the nation's health literacy can be advanced to the point at which it will play a major role in improving health care and health for all Americans.

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PMID:
22262723
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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