Many people don’t understand health. They don’t understand the doctor, the pharmacy, their healthcare insurance or even how to make healthy lifestyle decisions. Health Literacy Missouri hopes to change that.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy, and Health Literacy Missouri is the nation’s first statewide center devoted solely to increasing health literacy.

President of the organization, Dr. Arthur Culbert says one third of adults in the U.S. struggle to understand their health, and how the system works. 


He says Health Literacy Missouri will spend the next two years building a community engagement model in St. Louis, Kansas City, Bootheel and others, where they’re trying to get libraries, doctors, and pharmacies involved in teaching health literacy.

Culbert says there’s a major disconnect. To start, most medical information is written at a 12th grade level or higher, and the average reading level in the U.S. is somewhere around the 6th or 7th grade.

He says the disconnect could result in estimates of up to $7 billion lost annually in Missouri, he says.