How to improve employees’ healthcare literacy

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Key takeaways

Healthcare literacy is the ability of your employees to find, understand and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions. Healthcare literacy is important because it affects the physical and financial health of your employees, plus their appreciation of your benefits. You can improve employees’ healthcare literacy through education and advocacy.

As an employer, a big question you should be asking yourself is, “Do my employees possess healthcare literacy?” If you’re unsure what this means and why it’s important, we’re here to help! Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about healthcare literacy and your employees.

What is healthcare literacy?

According to the CDC, health care literacy is: “The degree to which individuals have the ability to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.”

Healthcare literacy includes everything from an employee’s ability to understand preventive care, diagnoses and treatments—to their ability to comprehend health insurance, providers and medical bills.

Why is healthcare literacy important?

There are several reasons why healthcare literacy is important for your employees and for your business:

  • Healthcare literacy impacts the health of your employees: A study found that people in counties with higher health literacy experienced 26% less hospitalizations, 15% fewer emergency department visits and 9% fewer hospital admissions.1
  • Healthcare literacy impacts their finances: The same study found that people with higher health literacy had 13% lower health care spending.1
  • Healthcare literacy impacts their appreciation of your benefits: At Optavise we often say, “It’s only a benefit if your employees understand it.” In other words, if your employees lack health care literacy and don’t understand the benefits you provide, they’re less likely to value your investment in their benefits.

How to improve employees’ healthcare literacy

The first thing you can do to help improve the health care literacy of your employees is to make it part of your benefits onboarding process. Provide your employees with resources that explain basic health insurance terminology so they’re more likely to understand their benefits and feel empowered to use them.

Here at Optavise, our Optavise education program increases employee awareness and understanding of offered benefits, empowers informed and confident decision-making, and improves employee perception of value and satisfaction with benefits.

However, even with basic health insurance knowledge, employees can still easily become overwhelmed with the health care system, so the second thing you can do to support healthcare literacy is to provide employees access to a benefits advocacy service.

A benefits advocacy service is a team of experts who employees can call on for assistance with their benefits and healthcare. Benefits advocacy improves employee benefits and healthcare literacy, empowers employees to make informed healthcare decisions for greater wellbeing, and lowers healthcare spending.

For example, Optavise advocacy can help support healthcare literacy for employees by:

  • Comparing costs for tests and procedures
  • Helping employees shop around for care
  • Explaining how benefits cover physician visits, tests, procedures and medications
  • Finding in-network providers
  • Reviewing bills for accuracy
  • Helping employees understand the diagnosis and treatment plan
  • Coordinating prior authorizations and pre-certifications
  • Helping employees save money on prescriptions
  • Making appointments, transferring medical records, arranging home care services and more

Optavise has your education and advocacy needs covered

Are you interested in receiving more information about how Optavise benefits education and advocacy can help support health care literacy for your employees? Contact us here to get started!


1UnitedHealth Group, Improving Health Literacy Could Prevent Nearly 1 Million Hospital Visits and Save Over $25 Billion a Year,, October 2020.