Consumer Education Initiatives in Financial and Health Literacy. Opportunities to Synchronize Initiatives across Agencies and Initiatives


In this section, we provide a description of opportunities for coordinating initiatives and agencies to improve dissemination of initiatives and build on initiatives.

Link seemingly disparate programs to create a more holistic program. One current example of program linkage is HUDs Home Equity Conversion Program and AoAs Benefits Enrollment Centers initiative, which together provide financial counseling as part of benefits enrollment. In a similar manner, USDAs cooperative extensions and ACFs Head Start programs could work together to provide financial education at Head Start sites. The State Health Insurance Counseling and Assistance Programs (SHIPs), which provide counseling for Medicare beneficiaries, could be linked with other initiatives in order to help consumers facing financial challenges.

Imbed programs for older adults into programs for younger adults. The interviews suggested the need to incorporate financial education throughout the lifespan. Most financial education initiatives at the local level are aimed at people with disabilities or older adults, yet young people are disproportionately affected by poverty. For example, ACFs Head Start program and AoAs Aging Disability and Resource Centers could work together to provide education for parents of children at Head Start locations. Head Start could also work with AoAs NCBOE to provide benefits information to parents or incorporate WISER as an education initiative.

Provide critical information, as well as reminders, throughout the lifecycle, particularly at moments of significant life transitions. Many low-income Medicare beneficiaries remain unaware that they are eligible for the low-income subsidy, which would pay for a prescription drug benefit. Information that may substantially affect individuals needs to be disseminated and discussed. One method to disseminate this information is through common community-based organizations that already interact with low-income individuals. For example, traditional organizations include schools, senior centers, and food banks, but alternative organizations, such as state departments of motor vehicles, churches, or even hairdressers could be included. In addition, engaging individuals at key financial or health decision-making points, such as buying a first home or having a child, may motivate individuals to consider health and financial issues and ultimately make better decisions that will help them later in life.

Consider a single vehicle for managing information needs. There are several programs that seek to help consumers make sense of very confusing information, and it could be helpful to link these programs more effectively. For example, to obtain information on long-term care insurance and benefits there are SHIPs at the state level, Medicares toll-free line, the Social Security Administrations toll free line, AAAs, AoAs Aging and Disability Resource Centers, and AoAs Benefits Enrollment Centers, to name a few.

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