The Implications Of Poor Health Literacy in Public Health

Health literacy is a fancy word for how well a person is able to converse about medical things. When it comes to doctors they typically have a very high level of health literacy. But when it comes to the patients they may not be as well educated. When there is a major difference of health literacy between patients and doctor many issues can come up. Health literacy is something that needs to be improved in the United States. All over the United States, health literacy is low but it is something that a center for health literacy can improve. Check out these few impacts that the health literacy problem in the United States is causing.

Improper Healthcare

One obvious problem caused by poor health literacy in the United States is that healthcare will not translate well. For example, if a doctor explains a certain condition or medication in terms that a patient doesn’t understand then they will be unable to follow through with the directions given. Although a patient may not admit or know that they are misunderstanding what the doctor is saying the end result will be poor healthcare. The doctor’s description of a condition or treatment can be crucial to the health of the patient. A person not being able to closely follow the doctors’ direction can end in further healthcare needs or even death.

Certain Groups

Unfortunately in the United States, there are certain demographic groups that have poorer health literacy. Minorities in the United States typically have less education resulting in lower health literacy. This also makes them more vulnerable to poor healthcare. Oftentimes people in minority groups are less insured or non-insured. Forcing them to see poorer doctors. The health literacy between the two groups can have devastating results.

Increased Healthcare Costs

Poor health literacy results in increased healthcare costs for everyone in the United States. The reasoning behind this is complicated. It starts at the point of the first contact. For example, a doctor explains a certain condition or treatment to a patient. They do not completely understand what is being said so they go home and do not complete the directions. Resulting in returning for more healthcare and possibly worsening of the condition. As discussed earlier, minorities are more likely to have poor health care literacy. This results in them being more likely to be on public funding. So returning for more healthcare costs the entire country’s taxpayers.

How to Fix this Problem

The only real way to fix this problem is to increase health literacy among all cultures and groups. There is a center for health literacy that is designed specifically to assist people with understanding their healthcare. The center is there to help you understand your healthcare. They also help put on classes as well as create learning material to distribute out. This can help give access to better health literacy to all different culture groups and minorities. Their goal is to give all people access to healthcare information.


Health literacy is problematic in the United States. This issue can cause more expenses for people and taxpayers. The health literacy problem seems to be more centered to lower socioeconomic and minority groups. However, this problem can easily be fixed with some health literacy education. Doctors slowing down and taking the time to explain conditions and medications well can also help increase health literacy. This condition in the United States can easily be remedied with a little education.

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