TABLE B-5 How Organizations and Systems Might Act to Improve America’s Health Literacy



  • Provide insurance premium discounts and/or co-payment waivers to non-high school graduates who enroll in and successfully complete graduate equivalency diploma (GED) programs.

  • Medicaid and Medicare could provide health education on common health problems to their enrollees at community-based courses and seminars around the nation.

  • Tricare could sponsor health education seminars around the nation for military personnel and their dependents.

  • Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare insurance plans could all partner with community-based literacy enhancement programs, such as those operated by ProLiteracy, to provide literacy enhancement education to enrollees in those insurance plans.



  • Partner with public school systems to enhance general literacy and biological science and health education in elementary and secondary schools.

  • Partner with community-based literacy enhancement programs (e.g., ProLiteracy) to expand availability of such programs, many of which are currently oversubscribed and cannot meet community needs.

  • Expand workplace literacy education programs to include an emphasis on health literacy.

  • Fast food restaurants could provide education to employees regarding modes of transmission of infectious disease, thus improving both employees’ health literacy and sanitation in restaurants.

Advocacy Organizations


  • Advocacy organizations for the elderly could provide health education courses and classes on common health problems of older persons, specifically designed for seniors with limited literacy skills.

  • Professional advocacy organization could create a nationwide corps of volunteer physicians and other health professionals to teach health education and prevention topics in elementary and secondary schools across the nation.

  • Professional health advocacy organizations could establish a well-publicized national health literacy bee, analogous to current national spelling or geography bees, in which children and adolescents would compete to demonstrate their knowledge of health information.

Governmental and Social Service Agencies


  • Public housing facilities for the poor could provide health education videotapes for residents to view in their homes.

  • Head Start and similar daycare programs could provide pediatric health education information to parents of enrolled children.

  • Homeless shelters could provide health education.

  • Homeless shelters could link with community-based literacy programs to facilitate entry of clients into those literacy programs.

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