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Julien Emery
  October 7, 2018

The Cost of Poor Health Literacy

According to a report released by Accenture, poor healthcare literacy is contributing $4.8B a year to administrative costs alone. Even more alarming, a quarter of respondents have both a low understanding of the healthcare system and high spend conditions. This means many of the highest dollar claims are coming from those least capable of navigating our byzantine healthcare system. 

A few stunning statistics from the report:

  • 52% do not understand how to properly navigate the healthcare system and struggle when learning about new health plan types, premium expenses, and available in-network providers
  • Only 16% claim to have a thorough understanding of the healthcare system
  • 33% have no experience in making healthcare decisions.

Don’t take cover in believing that a highly educated “smart” group is going to have high healthcare literacy. The report asserts that 48% with low literacy are college educated and 97% have at least a high school diploma.

While the report puts the blame squarely at the feet of an overly complex system, I would argue there’s no time to wait for the system to fix itself. As a healthcare purchasing consultant, there’s a lot you can do now to improve the member experience and cost burden on employers TODAY by including:

Care Navigation – these include smartphone apps that help in basic navigation for everyday member needs like finding in network doctors, often including 24/7 telemedicine.  

Medical Concierge – these services help book appointments with providers who offer the best combination of quality & value and assist members to better understand their health plan.

Medical Management – while the previous solutions act as guides through the system, medical management acts more like an advocate to make sure members have appropriate and cost effective care, from the right providers, in the right setting.

Direct Primary Care (DPC) – DPC gives members access to a trusted physician who operates outside of the fee-for-service world and can act as a quarterback for member’s care.

If you’re interested in implementing any of the above in a healthcare program for your clients, feel free to reach out to us to discuss which solutions might be an ideal fit.


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