Government Insurance Coverage

There are many resources available to help patients and their families understand more about their Medicare insurance:

In the report, Healthy People 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines health literacy as, "The degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions."

In a 2007 report titled, "Low Health Literacy: Implications for National Policy" by Vernon et al, several citations noted the possible negative consequences of low health literacy. For example, Baker et al (1998; 2002) and Schillinger et al (2002) found that individuals with low levels of literacy were more likely to be hospitalized and to experience bad disease outcomes. Friedland (2002) estimated that low functional literacy may have been responsible for an additional $32 billion to $58 billion dollars in healthcare spending in 2001. A substantial part of these expenditures (in the United States) is financed by Medicaid and Medicare.

Because health literacy includes the ability to negotiate complex health care systems, according to the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, it is very important that your patients understand all they can about their health insurance coverage in order to avoid hospitalizations and extra costs.

Both the United States and Canada have government insurance programs. Each has varying options for coverage depending on services purchased and perhaps even where you reside.