Both financial literacy (managing personal finances) and health literacy (managing personal health) become increasingly important for older adults, potentially impacting their quality of life. Resources in these constructs of literacy tend to be distinct, although the skills and decision-making involved overlap as financial issues impact healthcare choices. Thus the primary purpose of this commentary is to propose a new area of research focus that defines the intersection of financial and health literacy (i.e., financial health literacy).
We conducted a limited literature review related to financial, health, and health insurance literacy to demonstrate gaps in the literature and support our position. Online search engines were utilized to identify research in our primary areas of interest.
We define the intersection of financial and health literacy as an area of need labeled financial health literacy, with a focus on four domains. These include: 1) the ability to manage healthcare expenses; 2) pay medical bills; 3) determine health needs and understand treatment options; and 4) make sound healthcare decisions with financial resources available. Despite some overlap with health insurance literacy, financial health literacy would define an area of need encompassing health management choices and health plan selections integrated with other financial management issues including living arrangements, financial planning, and retirement planning.
Potential initiatives should be considered to help at-risk older adults find resources to improve their financial health literacy, which in turn will enhance their abilities to manage medical choices in the environment of an increasingly complex healthcare system.
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- The growing need for resources to help older adults manage their financial and healthcare choices
Douglas G. Armstrong
- BioMed Central
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