Market Overview

SCAN Health Plan Announces New Health Literacy Initiative


SCAN Health Plan, the nation's fourth largest not-for-profit Medicare Advantage plan, has launched a health literacy initiative aimed at ensuring that its members receive health information that is understandable, actionable and helpful. Health literacy encompasses the ability to read, understand and act upon health information. Individuals with low health literacy have higher rates of hospitalization, inferior health outcomes, and are less frequent users of preventative services.

“Our commitment is to make sure that our members have the information they need to take charge of their health,” said Tim Schwab, MD, chief medical officer for SCAN Health Plan. “The science of medicine can be complex, but the basic information you need to lead a healthy lifestyle and take care of yourself shouldn't be. Health literacy is a major problem in the United States, and our program is designed to address this issue head on.”

As part of its health literacy initiative, SCAN has developed a new internal training program to identify the health literacy needs of its entire Health Care Services division as well as oral and written communication with members. SCAN's program aims to align with the seven goals of the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy by the United Stated Department of Health and Human Services and the 10 Attributes of Health Literate Health Care Organizations by the Institutes of Medicine.

Last year SCAN introduced a community outreach program aimed at improving health education and literacy for seniors and their caregivers throughout SCAN's service area. “Classroom in the Community” is a series of health presentations with a heavy focus on prevention activities that enable older adults to learn and practice healthy behaviors. The programs are offered in partnership with community-based organizations throughout California as well as Maricopa and Pima counties in Arizona.

“As a senior-focused health plan, we recognized that we needed to do more than just bring health education out into the community − we needed to make sure that the health information being delivered was understandable and actionable,” said Lena Perelman, director of community outreach for SCAN. “Choosing a healthy lifestyle, knowing how to seek medical care, and taking advantage of preventive measures require that people understand and use health information.”

Health literacy affects people of all ages, races, incomes and education levels. Among the elderly low health literacy is consistently associated with poorer overall health status and higher mortality rates.

For more than 30 years, SCAN Health Plan has been focusing on the unique needs of seniors. The company currently has nearly 130,000 members in California and Arizona. Further information may be obtained at

SCAN Health Plan
Michelle Hokr, 818-597-8453, x5

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