Patient activation refers to a person's ability to manage their health and health care. Engaging or activating consumers has become a priority for employers, health plans and policy makers. The level of patient activation varies considerably in the U.S. population, with less than half of the adult population at the highest level of activation, according to a new study by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC). Activation levels are especially low for people with low incomes, less education, Medicaid enrollees, and people with poor self-reported health. Higher activation levels are associated with much lower levels of unmet need for medical care and greater support from health care providers for self-management of chronic conditions.