EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The 2004 Institute of Medicine publication, Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion, is the first comprehensive report about low health literacy and its consequences. Although affecting more than 50 percent of the adult population in the United States, low health literacy is a pervasive issue that has received little attention among policymakers and healthcare executives. Yet, strategies to increase the health literacy of patient communities are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement. Furthermore, such strategies have the potential to significantly reduce costs and improve outcomes by arming the population with information on self-management and prevention of disease. This article presents an overview of the issues surrounding low health literacy, highlights its impact on the delivery system, and discusses practical steps that healthcare providers and executives can implement to enable health literate communities.