Could you pass a 'health literacy' test to get insurance?


This article in a North Carolina online news service describes a proposed, but contested, new policy in Kentucky requiring low-income adults on medicaid to pass a health literacy test to qualify for health insurance. At least one other state, Utah, is considering a similar policy. Take a look at the article and let us know what you think of this proposed policy.

David J. Rosen



Hi David,

To anyone who has studied the history of civil rights in the United States, this sounds eerily similar to the literacy tests used to disenfranchise African Americans and undereducated Whites in the South after Reconstruction. After reading the article, I even tried to find support for this legislation as a devil's advocate. But there is none. From a policy perspective, there are so many factors which interact here--which assessments would be used, text complexity, states' right--far too many to jeopardize the health access of our most vulnerable community members. More poignantly, it seems obvious that the same folks who are struggling to build the literacy skills needed for sustainable employment will have difficulty passing a health literacy assessment. The same folks who would also be disenfranchised from voting.

I think it is our responsibility as educators and administrators to oppose this on all grounds.


I agree, Adjua! It seems like nothing more than a completely undisguised attempt to reduce the state's Medicaid applicants and recipients. We've just opened up some discussion about this on the Health Literacy Discussion List. We'd love to have you and anyone else in this Group join that List and share your thoughts about this policy.

We also just recently had an interesting discussion about ABE and Health Literacy that we'd love to share with this Group! Once you join the Health Literacy Discussion List, you can see that discussion in the archives and continue to comment on it.

Thank you!