WA Exchange takes a cultural, regional approach to health literacy

Adding to its health literacy toolbox, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange has streamlined its outreach by identifying specific regional and cultural barriers to health and insurance literacy that still exist in the state before Open Enrollment 2. The Exchange targets each of these barriers with new materials like a glossary of terms printed in eight languages, a tribal handbook, and a region-specific promotions.

Yakima, Grant, and Chelan counties have the highest percentage of uninsured residents according to the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner. The Exchange has recognized the benefit of increasing health literacy in the state by region as well as connecting with each tribe in the state.

Language barriers may also arise when a person is new to the United States or simply due to the cloud of jargon that shrouds the health care industry. Targeting this issue, the Exchange has produced an alphabetic glossary of commonly-misused terms like “out-of-pocket” and “premium.” The glossary features simple graphics and short bullet points. Some guides are written at reading level grade 5.3 with audio and visual options.

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In an effort to increase price transparency in the health care market, handbooks also include a side-by-side comparison of prices for common illnesses and injuries with how much it would cost to receive care with and without insurance.

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The Exchange explains that the redesigns are an attempt to narrow focus and reach unseen sectors of the population. These materials come as good news before Open Enrollment 2 on Nov. 15.