Using analogies to explain premiums to a new health insurance consumer

It’s open enrollment season for the Affordable Care Act, and many people are getting health insurance for the very first time. We’ve heard from some of our assister friends that new health insurance consumers aren’t familiar with the idea that they must pay a monthly payment, even when they don’t use health care.

Premiums are the cost you pay to have health insurance. Premiums may be paid by you, your employer, or a combination of both. They’re usually paid monthly.

You can help them keep their insurance – and all the health benefits that come with being insured – by clearly explaining the concept of premiums. Helping them stay current on their premiums means their insurance will be there when they need it for emergencies and routine care. Analogies can help consumers understand. Try these:

Analogies and examples are great ways to help people understand a new concept, so go out and step up your analogy game today!

Top-Ranking U.S. Coast Guard Culinary Specialist and Master Chief to lead cooking workshop for small-town Missouri community members

Community members in the small Missouri towns of Salem and Hannibal will have the unique opportunity to attend a cooking workshop hosted by one of the highest ranking female chefs in the United States Coast Guard Reserves.


Laura Short, Senior Chief Culinary Specialist at the Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Academy, will be hosting workshops designed to teach community members how they can cook affordable, delicious and healthy meals, right in their own kitchens.

Laura Short, 34, Senior Chief Culinary Specialist at the Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Academy, located at Training Center Petaluma, Calif., will be hosting workshops designed to teach community members how they can cook affordable, delicious and healthy meals, right in their own kitchens.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to eat healthy,” says Short. “Fresh ingredients aren’t always available, or they can be expensive, and time can be a factor for a lot of working families. I’m going to show folks how to do slow-cooker recipes on a budget that are not only delicious, but healthy, too!”

Laura Short’s cooking workshop in Salem, Missouri will be held on Tuesday, April 4 and Wednesday, April 5 at the Salem Community Center @ the Armory from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Laura Short’s cooking workshop in Hannibal, Missouri will be held on Thursday, April 6 at the FACT Office located at 4 Melgrove Ln., Hannibal Mo. 63401 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The demonstrations are hosted by Healthy Hannibal and Healthy Salem, projects of Cover Missouri, a group of organizations working together to help people in Missouri get, keep, and use health insurance. The group understands that some people can’t or don’t want to get health insurance. The goal of the Healthy Hannibal and Healthy Salem projects is to help everyone stay healthier, with or without health insurance. The project is coordinated by Health Literacy Media (HLM), a non-profit that works to improve health by making it easier to understand.

Short will highlight meals that can be thrown into a CrockPot (or other slow cooker) in the morning and are ready to eat by the time you return home from the day’s activities.

Eating healthy does not necessarily need to be expensive or time-consuming, says Short. In fact, in most cases, it is cheaper to make your own food than to eat out, even fast-food meals. “Food is very important, and you shouldn’t have to stress about feeding yourself,” Short says.

Short will also share healthy cooking and shopping tips, are well as stories about preparing healthy meals for hundreds of Coast Guard personnel at a time.

Short says she believes sharing her expertise and skills with others is important to share these cooking skills because “It’s like riding a bike…even years down the road, you can pick up that pot and spatula and say, ‘I’m going to use [these ingredients] to cook something healthy and delicious for me and my family.’ Once you see it, hear it and do it, you’ll always remember it. I just want to help bring that to life.”

Short says she hopes to engage with community members as both a U.S. service member and as a chef: “I’m there to offer service to the community: as a mom, as a sister, as a wife and as a service member. I want to help. Any questions, I will help answer. I am here for them.”

UnitedHealthcare focus groups: Medicaid and health care access in rural southeast Missouri

Anybody can have trouble understanding healthcare and health insurance. We wanted to better understand the problems people face when they need care, especially people with Medicaid in rural areas. So we partnered with UnitedHealthcare to speak with people from four communities in southeast Missouri. We held focus groups with people who had Medicaid, uninsured people, and healthcare providers to listen to them and learn about their experiences. The findings showed that many people are experiencing the same problems when it comes to getting and using healthcare in their communities. We shared these results with UnitedHealthcare and other organizations so they can work to make healthcare more clear and accessible, control costs, and help people with Medicaid use the health care services covered by their plans.



We wanted to know more about people’s experiences with Medicaid and healthcare, so we set out to conduct 12 focus groups across four communities with:

  • People with Medicaid
  • Uninsured people
  • Healthcare providers


We gathered ideas and feedback from 67 people about their experiences with:

  • Applying for Medicaid
  • Paying for services with and without Medicaid
  • The coverage they get with Medicaid
  • Using Medicaid to get healthcare services

Clayton and Candra Got You Covered

Clayton and Candra spread the word about health insurance literacy.

We think health insurance is great. But we also know it isn’t exactly the most exciting thing in the world. So we set out to make some videos about difficult health insurance topics that weren’t just informative but also fun to watch.

Enter Candra. Enter Clayton. Clayton slips on a banana peel.

We made the videos for assisters, which are the people who help everyday consumers choose a health insurance plan. They needed education about how to explain some of these trickier topics, so we obliged, figuring they could use a few laughs, too. We wrote and produced a series of ten videos that used plain language to simply explain some of the tough situations people can run into when they’re trying to get, keep, and use health insurance.



The videos were designed to give information in a clear, simple, yet lighthearted way, bringing a little fun to health insurance. Some of our topics were:

  • The importance of preventive care
  • How to find a primary care provider
  • Calculating Modified Adjusted Gross Income (or MAGI!)
  • How to file a claims appeal
  • What is covered by your insurance plan
  • The different kinds of health care costs
  • The family glitch and the Medicaid gap


The videos have received recognition nationwide, and we are pleased to report the following awards and attention:

  • Three of the videos have been shown in up to 30,000 outpatient waiting rooms across the U.S. as part of AccentHealth’s patient education programming
  • 2016 Institute for Healthcare Advancement Published Materials Award – Innovative Program
  • 2016 ClearMark Award of Distinction for the entire video series
  • Fall 2015 Digital Health Award for the first five videos in the series

Nation’s premier kidney transplant education program to merge with leading health literacy non-profit to extend reach and digital communications capacity

Dr. Amy Waterman, founder of Explore Transplant, counsels a kidney patient on treatment options.

Dr. Amy Waterman, founder of Explore Transplant, counsels a kidney patient on treatment options.

Explore Transplant (ET), the nation’s leading kidney transplant education program, announced this week that it will partner with St. Louis-based Health Literacy Media (HLM) to further improve the lives of kidney patients and their families, and guide the providers who care for them.

ET has helped tens of thousands of kidney patients across the United States and Canada live healthier lives since 2009 by empowering them through better decision-making skills in the often-confusing and emotional world of transplant. Through seminars, partnerships, research collaborations, and the publication of educational resources, ET has educated more than 4,000 dialysis and nephrology providers, conducting 120 training seminars in partnership with transplant centers, organ procurement organizations, foundations and End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Networks.

In an effort to expand this important work, ET will partner with HLM, effective immediately. Going forward, HLM will manage key components of the ET portfolio, including trainings offered to new partners, sales and service of educational materials, and developing international versions of training materials for Canada, Ethiopia and Singapore.

“We are so pleased to call HLM our partner in the next step of our growth as an organization,” said Dr. Amy D. Waterman, associate professor in residence and health services researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) who oversees ET’s educational programs and trainings. “With their health literacy expertise, we will be able to powerfully educate even more kidney patients, their families and the people who help them make the difficult decisions about transplant nationally and internationally.”

After meeting with a number of nonprofit organizations and foundations as potential partners, Waterman and her team chose HLM, a 501c3 nonprofit foundation, for its skill in customized communications, health literacy for diverse audiences, and the sophistication of its digital marketing. HLM was founded in 2009.  Waterman will remain fully engaged as the partnership between ET and HLM develops.  Recently, ET has experienced an explosion of new initiatives and opportunities in the digital and mobile learning space.  ET needed greater expertise and bandwidth to see new projects to fruition on a national and international scale.  HLM has this expertise, with an unparalleled track record developing on point, health-literate language and messaging. The company’s work has garnered much national attention, including a 2012 Silver Telly Award, a 2012 National Academy of Television Mid-America Emmy Nomination, a 2015 Merit Award for Digital Health, and Clear Mark Awards in 2015 and 2016.

“ET is an important program that has done life-saving work over the past seven years,” said Dr. Catina O’Leary, HLM President and CEO. “At HLM we are honored to join Dr. Waterman and the ET team. Our hope is that we can apply the range of health literacy strategies to the ET program with the goal of increasing access to, and understanding of, the life-saving health information that comprises Dr. Waterman’s groundbreaking ET program.”

ET education will soon be featured as an educational resource on a national website now under development. Launching in summer 2017, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) Kidney Transplant Learning Center is an online education hub aimed at more than 650,000 people currently living with end-stage renal disease, more than 100,000 people awaiting a kidney transplant, their prospective living donors and the interested public. ET education is one of eight educational programs that will be featured on the new site.

Simultaneously, in partnership with UCLA, the Living Donation Storytelling Project will launch in early 2017. The project is a pilot initiative to film and share stories of living kidney donors, recipients, and their family and friends using mobile application technology and social media. The project leverages visual and digital stories as a means to educate patients and their communities about the benefits and risks of transplant.

UCLA, XYN Management, and ET, with support from Sanofi/Genzyme, have also been constructing a beta version of an iOS-based educational application, My Transplant Coach (MTC). The app was successfully piloted at leading transplant programs and showed an increase in patient knowledge, empowerment, and interest in transplantation.  HLM is now taking the beta version of the app to the next level by improving the script and visuals, and applying health literacy principles.

Former ET Education Manager, Christina Goalby, MSW, has expanded her role to HLM Health Literacy Transplant Education Manager and now oversees all of these projects. Goalby and ET’s Master Trainers will continue to provide Provider Trainings nationally.

Questions about the partnership between Health Literacy Media and Explore Transplant can be addressed to Michelle Roberts, Creative Director, 314-361-9400.


New name, same people.

Announcing Health Literacy Media.

You may have noticed some changes. But don’t fret. We’re still the same HLM we’ve always been.We still rewrite medical documents to make them easier to read. We still train doctors and medical staff on how to talk to patients. We still use funny videos and crystal clear patient materials to empower people.

While our nonprofit mission hasn’t changed, where and to what extent we’re meeting our goals has changed a lot since we opened almost eight years ago. When we started as a small start-up, most of our work was right here in Missouri.

But as we’ve grown – and word about our products and services has spread – our customer base has expanded, too. Our clients now span from Los Angeles to New York, and Minnesota to Madrid. As such, we often find ourselves having to explain that we, in fact, are a national and international health care communications company.

We understand just how much words matter (health literacy is our business, after all). So, while we’re incredibly proud of our Missouri roots and St. Louis home, we figured it was time to have a name that more accurately reflected our company.


HLM now stands for Health Literacy Media.

Why media?

Media is defined as a means of communication that reaches or influences people widely. In short, everything we do at HLM is centered around one media format or another, whether it’s on paper, video or online.

To that end, our website can now be found at, and Heather will be answering the office phone a little bit differently, too.

Thanks for letting us be your partner in clear health communication. And thanks for growing and changing with us.

Team HLM

Healthcare Hacks

Clayton and Candra – Healthcare Hacks

Watch as Clayton and Candra bring you this year’s Healthcare Hacks. Created to help individuals navigate the healthcare world, offer tips and advice, and make you laugh. The latest video released focuses on stopping your doctor if you are feeling confused – and saying “What!?”

Click the image below to watch!

Terry C. Davis named 2016 Doak Award recipient

Health Literacy Missouri awards Terry C. Davis with prestigious Cecilia and Leonard Doak Health Literacy Champion Award

Dr. Davis will receive award at the annual October summit in Kansas City.

Terry C. Davis, PhD, a pioneer in the field of health literacy and a professor of medicine and pediatrics at the Feist-Weiller Cancer Center, will be awarded the 2016 Cecilia and Leonard Doak Health Literacy Champion Award, Health Literacy Missouri (HLM) announced today.

Davis, a professor, teacher and researcher at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport (LSUHSC-S), has led an interdisciplinary team investigating the impact of patient literacy on health and healthcare for the past 35 years.

Her seminal achievements include developing the Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine (REALM) and creating user-friendly patient education and provider training materials in use nationally.

“Dr. Davis’ work exemplifies the very best in health literacy and health care communication,” said Dr. Steve Pu, HLM board president and a surgeon in private practice in Kennett, Mo.  “She is one of health literacy’s most dedicated advocates. We are proud to honor her truly extraordinary contributions to the field.”

Dr. Davis has more than 140 publications related to health literacy and health communication. She has served on Health Literacy Advisory Boards for both the American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians (ACP). She was a developer and Master Faculty of the AMA’s Train-the-Trainer Health Literacy Curriculum. She chaired Louisiana’s statewide Health Literacy Task Force, the first legislatively mandated health literacy group in the nation and received the Louisiana Public Health Association’s Founders Award for Significant Achievement in Public Health Research.

She is a member of the IOM Health Literacy Roundtable, Healthy People 2020 Health Literacy/Health Communication Section and serves on US Pharmacopeial Convention Expert Panel on Health Literacy as a health literacy adviser for the FDA. Dr. Davis has a productive record of federally funded research exploring low literacy educational interventions to improve health outcomes of vulnerable populations. As a frequent speaker at national conferences, she has integrated her research findings into practical lessons for providers and policy makers.

HLM will present the award at the 7th Annual Health Literacy Missouri Summit on Oct. 21st at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center in Kansas City. Click here for program details.

Davis joined the LSU Health Shreveport faculty after receiving her bachelor’s degree in psychology and counseling from Emory University, a master’s in counseling from LSU and PhD in clinical psychology from the Fielding Institute.

Health Literacy Missouri established the Cecilia and Leonard Doak Health Literacy Champion Award to honor individuals and organizations who make outstanding contributions in health literacy and whose work focuses on bridging the gap between the skills of people and the demands of the health care system.

The award, named after the founders of the health literacy movement, is presented to a single individual or organization each year and recognizes those who exhibit the highest standards of excellence, dedication and accomplishment over a sustained period of time, and who are creative and highly skilled pioneers in the health literacy field. The award recognizes rigorous work and celebrates collaborative efforts to shape a path to good health. 

Previous winners include:  Michael Villaire, CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Advancement (IHA),  Dr. Andrew Pleasant, senior director for health literacy and research at Canyon Ranch Institute, a non-profit public charity; Dr. Cynthia Baur, a senior advisor for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the lead editor of the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy; Dr. Ruth Murphey Parker, who has worked with health services researchers in medicine, public health and social sciences to advance the understanding of health literacy; Dr. James Kimmey, past president of the Missouri Foundation for Health and a key founder of Health Literacy Missouri; and Dr. Rima Rudd, one of the world’s leading researchers in health literacy and a Senior Lecturer on Society, Human Development and Health at the Harvard School of Public Health.

For more information, contact Michelle Roberts, Director of Communications, Strategy and Market Research at 314-361-9400 or e-mail her.

About Health Literacy Missouri (HLM)
Health Literacy Missouri (HLM), established in December 2009, is the largest health literacy nonprofit in the country. We specialize in improving health literacy through clear communication trainings, plain language messaging and design, health environment assessment, and audience research and content development. We work to develop organizational policies and plans that promote clear communication, and investigate new ways to measure the clarity of health information.

Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City awards grant to support annual Health Literacy Summit

Health Literacy Missouri (HLM) received a $12,600 grant from the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City (HCFGKC) to support the 7th annual Health Literacy Missouri Summit and the 3rd annual Health Literacy Kansas Summit.

The combined events will be held in Kansas City on Oct. 20-21 at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center. The HCFGKC grant will sponsor local health professionals to take part in panel discussions and learn from state and national leaders in health literacy.

“We’re thankful to have such great partners in Kansas City for this event,” said Dr. Catina O’Leary, HLM president and CEO. “The Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City has always been a health literacy leader, and this support underscores their commitment to clear communication in health care.”

The summit will be from 7:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 21, and feature keynote speakers and panel sessions. Additionally, pre-conference workshops will start at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 20, and feature five in-depth training sessions where participants will build health literacy skills, such as plain language writing and health-literate design.

To learn more about the summit, click here.

For more information, contact Michelle Roberts, Director of Communications, Strategy and Market Research at 314-361-9400 or e-mail her at

About Health Literacy Missouri (HLM)

Health Literacy Missouri (HLM), established in December 2009, is the largest health literacy nonprofit in the country. We specialize in improving health literacy through clear communication trainings, plain language messaging and design, health environment assessment, and audience research and content development. We work to develop organizational policies and plans that promote clear communication, and investigate new ways to measure the clarity of health information.

About Health Care Foundation of Greater
Kansas City (HCFGKC)

The Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City (HCFGKC) provides leadership, advocacy and resources that eliminate barriers to quality health for the uninsured and underserved in Kansas City, Missouri, Cass, Jackson and Lafayette counties in Missouri and Allen, Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas. Since it began grantmaking in 2005, HCF has awarded more than $210 million to agencies addressing health needs in the community. For more information, visit

Join our focus groups!

Take part and spread the word

HLM is partnering with UnitedHealthcare to host focus groups. We’re looking for healthcare professionals, people who are uninsured, and people with Medicaid to share their thoughts about health and health care. We hope to create materials to help people enroll in Medicaid and use their coverage to improve their health.nnRead on for more information – we’d love to have you join us!

Focus group details

Who can take part?

Healthcare professionals
You must be a physician, nurse, or pharmacist who accepts patients who are on Medicaid or are uninsured.

Uninsured participants
You must be 18-64 years old and not have health insurance.

Medicaid participants
You must be 18-64 years old and currently have Medicaid.

How long will it take?

How long will it take?

No more than 2 hours

What will I get for taking part?

You will get snacks, drinks, and a $25 gift card

When and where will these take place?

Poplar Bluff, MO:
August 3rd or 4th at the South Central Missouri Community Action Agency (located at 842 W. Pine Street, Poplar Bluff, MO 63901)

Kennett, MO:
August 9th or 10th at the Missouri Career Center (located at 1100 South Bypass Suite #2
Kennett, MO 63857)

Sikeston, MO:
August 17th or 18th at the Missouri Bootheel Regional Consortium, Inc. (located at 903 S. Kingshighway, Suite A, Sikeston, MO 63801)

New Madrid, MO:
August 24th or 25th at the New Madrid County Family Resource Center (located at 420 Virginia Street, New Madrid, MO 63869)

How do I sign up?

Contact Jenna Eichelberger at (314) 361-9400 or

How can I help spread the word?

  • Post the flyer in your waiting area or on bulletin boards (click below to downloadn the flyer for your community)
  • Share the focus group information online and on social media
  • Tell your family, friends, and coworkers who might be interested in taking part

Click here for the Kennett flyer
Click here for the New Madrid flyer
Coming soon: Poplar Bluff flyer
Coming soon: Sikeston flyer