Health Literacy

Health literacy isn’t about the ability to read — it’s the ability to understand basic health information and services to make better health decisions.

Studies have shown many Americans have trouble understanding and using health information. Patients with limited health literacy are often admitted to the hospital more and use emergency services more often. They also have trouble navigating the health care system effectively.

One way Anthem fulfills our “Easy to do business with” core value is to help our members understand ways to become better health care consumers.

Research and Assessments »

America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) is a national trade association that supports public policies to expand access to health insurance in the United States. Anthem is an active member of the AHIP Health Literacy Task Force. In 2010, the Task Force developed a health literacy toolkit to promote health literacy programs. Today, Anthem continues to build on this foundation to expand the health literacy of consumers.

Anthem participated in AHIP’s assessment survey to establish benchmarks in measuring our health literacy efforts.

Anthem took part in the Health Access Project sponsored by University of California Berkeley’s Health Research for Action and California’s Office of the Patient Advocate. The project identified a number of barriers to health literacy for patients. These barriers include:

  • Understanding health care materials
  • Completing complicated forms
  • Using health care benefits
  • Following medical instructions
  • Navigating the health care system

One important outcome of the project was driving health literacy improvement through ready access to easy-to-understand information for consumers.

Educating Associates »

Anthem’s Plain Language initiative is designed to help us communicate more clearly with all of the people we serve. Plain language training and assessment tools help ensure we use terms that are easy to understand, whether we are speaking to a consumer, provider, broker or employer. Plain language is integrated into all of our communications and our associates have ready access to Plain Language training and assessment tools.

Our corporate values are built on providing simple solutions using clear language — this means we strive to make it easy for our customers to understand information, even when it is complicated. We provide health literacy training and access to resources to help Anthem associates make communications easier to understand, both when speaking and in writing. With this knowledge and corporate culture, our associates are able to help improve health literacy for our members and consumers.

Anthem has conducted webinars that allow associates from different departments to share best practices related to health literacy. The presenters cover program strategies for provider training, producing easy-to-understand and culturally appropriate materials for our diverse membership.

Educating Members »

Anthem is committed to providing health care information that is clear and accurate for all of our members. This effort includes: linguistically and culturally appropriate member materials, collaboration on member outreach, a cancer survivorship toolkit and online health articles, and a Spanish messaging style guide.

Educating the Public »

Anthem maintains a constant focus on health literacy. We actively listen to our members, work to understand their perspective and use their feedback to provide the information they need — in simple, clear language they understand. We also seek opportunities to share our health literacy efforts, best practices and lessons learned with professionals in the health care industry and beyond.