Click to view a video about the Center's work with Worcester County Public Schools to improve health literacy!

CAMPAIGN Dientes Sanos, Niños Sanos


In 2012 Maryland’s first statewide oral health literacy campaign, “Healthy Teeth, Health Kids” was announced, with aims to assist children who are eligible for Medicaid to gain access to dental care. Although tooth decay is completely preventable, it is a very common childhood disease in our nation. This problem is especially common among underserved children and many eligible for dental care through Medicaid lack access to services. “Healthy Teeth, Health Kids” aims to reach parents and caregivers throughout community outreach including local health department, federally qualified health centers, radio, Internet, television and public transit advertisements.

Now the program is expanding its reach and from September 15th until the end of November the Maryland Dental Action Coalition (MDAC) and UnitedHealthcare are launching a multimedia campaign called Dientes Sanos, Niños Sanos to educate Hispanic mothers about oral health.

“The goal of Dientes Sanos, Niños Sanos is to reduce oral disease among Hispanic children by increasing healthy behaviors and improving access to critically needed oral health care.”


For more information and for resources in both Spanish and English check out


Health Literacy Month VIDEO!

October 17, 2014

With celebrating Health Literacy Month, we went around the University of Maryland campus and asked students about their understanding of health literacy and its importance. Utilizing a quick skill screening, we were also able to assess their levels of health literacy.


This weeks findings on health literacy include:

  • Supporting aging adults to use the Internet and live socially active lives can promote health literacy and improve health outcomes.
  • Health information kiosks have high satisfaction rates by users and they can be a useful way to provide tailored health education information.
  • A study found that low subjective health literacy among survivors of colorectal cancer is associated with poorer health related quality of life, mental distress, increased smoking and low levels of physical activity.


Kobayashi, L., Wardle, J., & von, W. C. (September 02, 2014). The influence of regular reading, internet use, and social attachment on maintaining health literacy skills during ageing in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 68.

Key Finding: “Internet use and cultural engagement, including attending the cinema, art galleries, museums, or the theatre, appear to help older adults to maintain health literacy skills during ageing regardless of cognitive functioning.


Joshi, Ashish & Trout, Kate. (2014). The role of health information kiosks in diverse settings: a systematic review. Health information and libraries journal.

Key Finding: “Health information kiosks are a feasible medium to disseminate health information among various users in clinical and community settings, with high acceptance and satisfaction by users.”


Husson O., Mols F., Fransen M. P., van de Poll-Franse L. V., and Ezendam N. P. M. (2014) Low subjective health literacy is associated with adverse health behaviors and worse health-related quality of life among colorectal cancer survivors: results from the profiles registry, Psycho-Oncology.

Key Finding: “This study showed that low HL among CRC survivors is associated with poorer HRQoL and mental distress, less active behavior, and more regular smoking. These findings highlight the need for low HL to be identified and managed within the cancer population. One mechanism by which HL impacts HRQoL may be via adverse health behaviors. Health care professionals should learn how to recognize patients with low HL and how they can help them in improving their health behaviors.”


So now that we know the basics about the Health Insurance Marketplace, I’m sure you want to start shopping as soon as possible, right?! Well to prevent people from waiting to buy insurance only when they are sick, injured and need coverage, you are only able to purchase insurance through the Marketplace during a specific period called the “open enrollment period.” But don’t worry. You haven’t missed it! The open enrollment period to purchase health insurance for the coming year is November 15th to February 15th. And there’s even more good news: the government is so devoted to making the Marketplace user friendly that the administration has set up an automatic renewal system for anyone that purchased insurance through the Marketplace last year!

If you are reading this blog now, you will have plenty of time to purchase during the open enrollment period, but there are several exceptions that will still make you eligible to purchase insurance even if you missed the enrollment period. As defined by AARP, the conditions are:

  • You tried to enroll during open enrollment but couldn’t. This could be due to a malfunction of the website, an error made by a government employee, or misinformation relating to immigration status.
  • You lose health benefits from an employer.
  • You lose eligibility for other types of insurance. For example, you no longer meet the requirements to be eligible for Medicare because your income has increased.
  • You move to the United States, back to the United States, or are released from prison.
  • You were prevented from signing up by extenuating circumstances. An example is a natural disaster that struck your hometown.
  • You already have Marketplace insurance but your family circumstances change. This could include situations like a marriage, divorce, birth, or adoption.
  • You already have Marketplace insurance but your income changes.
  • You already have Marketplace insurance but your residence changes. This could mean you move outside of your current plan’s service area.
  • You are a member of a recognized Indian tribe.

It is important that you know when the open enrollment period is and if any of these conditions apply to you because under a policy called the Individual Mandate, if you are uninsured you will be forced to pay a penalty fine!


-Erin Calhoun


If the Health Insurance Marketplace was advertised as “a virtual insurance mega mall,” do you think it would appeal to more young Americans? Well, I have good news for you. That’s exactly what the Marketplace is! While you won’t find the Marketplace sandwiched between your favorite stores at the mall, it is very easy to access and is “shopper friendly.” Private insurers will be competing for your business. It is all about YOU! All plans sold through the Marketplace will offer coverage for a basic list of services like hospital visits, doctor visits, maternity care, mental health care, and prescription drugs. But in addition to these services, you can choose what other kinds of coverage you want and how much you’re willing to pay. Not even your favorite store can offer you those kinds of deals! What other advantages does the Health Insurance Marketplace offer, you ask? According to the Keiser Family Foundation:

  • Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 10.29.07 AM (1)Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 10.28.42 AM (2)The federal government will offer low-income individuals who use the Marketplace a tax break to help make their insurance cheaper.
  • The Marketplace has a strict list of guidelines that insurance companies must follow. This is to protect the insured. For example, companies have to offer insurance to everyone, even if an individual has a preexisting health condition. Additionally, they can’t charge more if an individual does have such a condition.
  • Young Americans can remain on their parents’ insurance plans until they turn 26. To help young Americans easily transition into their own insurance plan, the Marketplace offers low budget catastrophic plans that Americans can buy until they turn 30. Catastrophic plans require you to pay more for doctor’s visits and prescriptions, but your monthly premium payment will be lower so that if there is a catastrophe, you’ll be covered!

Now that you know the basics of what the Marketplace has to offer, tune in next

week to learn when you can visit the Marketplace and what happens if you choose not to be insured!

-Erin Calhoun


So let’s start with the basics: President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act back in March of 2010 and it will be fully implemented by 2015. What’s the Affordable Care Act all about, you ask? The goal of the Affordable Care Act, sometimes-called “Obamacare,” is to increase the number of Americans who have health insurance by expanding coverage to more people and providing cheaper plans.

There are three ways by which an individual can find himself or herself insured. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about 50% of Americans will have health insurance through their employers. The government is now requiring companies with 50 or more employees to provide insurance for all full-time employees. If companies choose not to comply, they will be forced to pay a penalty. So if you’re a business student and get a full-time offer from a big, multinational firm like Ernst & Young and they don’t offer you insurance options, you will know something is wrong and you are not being given all that you’re due!

About one third of Americans will be insured through the government. This applies to government programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare insures senior citizens but not much is changing with this program. Thankfully, we are all young so Medicare won’t be something that we need to consider for ourselves for a very long time! Medicaid, however, insures low income Americans who cannot afford to purchase their own insurance. The Medicaid program is expanding to cover more low-income adults, but not all states are required to adopt the growing program. If you live in a state that gets on board with the changes, the federal government will cover nearly all of the cost. But if you live in a state that does not choose to accept the changes, unfortunately you will only be left with the options that are in place today, most likely leaving you uninsured.

The last way that you can find yourself insured is by purchasing your own insurance through what is called the Health Insurance Marketplace. 10% of Americans will find themselves fitting into this category. You may stay on your parents’ plan until you turn 26 but what happens if you get a full-time job offer with a small company that is not legally required to provide insurance options for their employees? Then you will need to know what exactly the Marketplace is, and how and when you purchase plans! For all of this information and more, check in to my blog every Wednesday for the rest of the month!

-Erin Calhoun




As college students, we are currently living out our last few years of relative ignorance to the pressures and responsibilities of the real world; we have been living in campus dormitories where we don’t have to write checks for the electric bill or water bill, we have been eating at the on-campus diners where we don’t have to cook our own food or clean up after ourselves. So what happens when we graduate? Sure, we’ll have a degree that we have worked very hard for, and hopefully a full time job! But many graduates leave the comfort and familiarity of the American university system without some of the basic knowledge we need to know in order to lead healthy and productive lives. For example, what’s the deal with health insurance? Do you even need it? You’ve probably never seen a health insurance store in the mall, so where can you even buy it? In celebration of Health Literacy Month, I will be debunking the mysteries of health insurance in a way that all college students can understand! My first blog post will be released on October 1st so make sure to check it out! – Erin Calhoun

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