From Coverage to Care: A Roadmap to Better Care for Adults with Low Health Literacy

Health literacy refers to how patients or caregivers receive, understand, and use health information, and how health care providers, including medical professionals, health educators and others, provide information. Therefore, health literacy can be a significant determinant of health outcomes.

Iris Feinberg (Ph.D. '15)

Iris Feinberg

Last year, the Center for Law Health & Society hosted a presentation on health literacy. Based on the overwhelmingly positive response of attendees, Iris Feinberg (Ph.D. ’15), assistant director of the Adult Literacy Research Center at Georgia State University College of Education and Human Development, returned to present “From Coverage to Care – A Roadmap to Better Care for Adults with Low Health Literacy,” a training for law and graduate students to recognize signs and address low literacy of future clients or patients.

“If you don’t understand what your doctor is telling you, you can’t make an informed decision about your health care,” Feinberg said. Adults with low health literacy are less likely to understand information from their health care providers, adhere to medication instructions, seek preventive care, or even keep scheduled appointments. Further, adults with low health literacy are more likely have poor health status, unnecessary emergency department use, and face higher mortality rates.

To assist clients or patients with low literacy, Feinberg shared a resource titled “From Coverage to Care – A Roadmap to Better Care and a Healthier You,” developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of the Affordable Care Act rollout. The guide contains steps to increase general health literacy, and provides definitions for terms as well as questions to ask at the doctor’s office. The Roadmap can be found at go.cms.gov/c2c.