Health Care Equity

Racial and ethnic disparities in health care are the result of complex issues that cannot be eliminated with a single strategy or by any one group. Efforts to address inequities and gaps in care require a clear vision, strong leadership, systematic change, and collaboration among key stakeholders, including consumers, clinicians, hospitals, employers, health plans, government agencies, and the community at large.

Health plans play a key role initiating and leading change in the collection of data on race, ethnicity, and primary language; cross-cultural communication training of health care professionals; improvements in clear health communication; development of quality improvement programs to reduce disparities; and measuring progress over time.

 

Health Care Equity Core Elements


Health Literacy
A promising approach to improving health care quality and reducing disparities is the use of clear and effective health communication. Clear and simple health information enhances a consumer’s ability to effectively navigate the health care system and make well-informed decisions. A growing number of health plans are actively engaged in working to improve health literacy, either as a self standing initiative or through their disparities and quality improvement efforts.

Data Collection on Race, Ethnicity and Language 
Strong evidence suggests that race, ethnicity, language and socio-cultural factors impact how health care is accessed and delivered. Collection of these data are vital for identifying variations in the quality of care experience among different groups; developing and implementing effective prevention and treatment strategies; and facilitating the provision of culturally and linguistically appropriate health care.

From 2003-2011, the AHIP Foundation collaborated with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to assess the extent to which health plans collect and use data on their members’ race, ethnicity, and language to improve quality and health care equity. Four representative surveys of the industry (2003, 2006, 2008, and 2010) highlight the experience of commercial, Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid plans.

Language Access 
Health plans have a long standing tradition and commitment to support efforts to improve language and culturally appropriate communications by increasing the availability of language access services and developing culturally-appropriate educational materials in multiple languages to better reach a diverse membership.

Cultural Competency 
Health plans recognize the importance of understanding cultural differences and their impact on how individuals access appropriate health care services and manage their health. Cross-cultural programs geared for diverse audiences and training for health care professionals can build a solid foundation to improve quality of care and reduce health care disparities among our nation’s growing diverse population. 

Measuring Quality Improvement and Disparities-Reduction 
Health plans have a tradition of sharing information on successful models to encourage adoption of proven strategies. Health plan case studies featuring innovative practices demonstrate improvements and lessons towards achieving health care equity. These programs serve as examples of promising approaches for institutionalizing meaningful change.

Collaborations 

 

Latest Resources

2013 Leadership Roundtable – National Health Plan Collaborative Poster Series: Health Care Equity - [PDF]

National Health Plan Collaborative members highlight innovative programs and services designed to reduce disparities in care and address the cultural and linguistic needs of diverse populations, February 2013.

Reports/Research/White Papers | Clinical Affairs | 02/01/2013

Collection of Language Data and Services Provided by Health Plans

Health plans have made substantial progress in the collection of language data and many are offering options for language services.

News Articles | Clinical Affairs | 12/19/2011

Effective Strategies to Promote Influenza Vaccine Uptake Among Culturally Diverse Populations

Effective Strategies to Promote Influenza Vaccine Uptake Among Culturally Diverse Populations

Marketplace White Papers and Multimedia | 11/10/2011

AHIP’s Flu Outreach Campaign Flyer - [PDF]

Each year more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu. Dont let the flu interrupt your time together. 

PSA | 10/03/2011

Collection of Race and Ethnicity Data by Health Plans Has Grown Substantially, But Opportunities Remain to Expand Efforts, Health Affairs

Collection of Race and Ethnicity Data by Health Plans Has Grown Substantially, But Opportunities Remain to Expand Efforts, Health Affairs

News Articles | 10/01/2011

A Legal Perspective for Health Insurance Plans: Data Collection on Race, Ethnicity, and Primary Language - [PDF]

Since 2003, Americas Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) and its member companies have been working to increase awareness on the importance of collecting race, ethnicity, and primary language data of its enrollees to address disparities in health care and improve overall quality of care for all Americans.

Reports/Research/White Papers | 03/01/2009

Improving Quality: Achieving Health Care Equity - [PDF]

AHIP and its member companies recognize that racial and ethnic disparities in health care are the result of complex issues that cannot be eliminated with a single strategy or by any one group. Efforts to reduce inequities and attain true progress will require a clear vision, strong leadership, systematic change and collaboration among key stakeholders, including consumers, clinicians, hospitals, employers, health plans, government agencies, and the community at large. Health plans play key roles initiating and leading change in the collection of data on race, ethnicity, and primary language; cross-cultural communication training of health care professionals; improvements in clear health communication; development of quality improvement programs to reduce disparities; and measuring progress over time.

Reports/Research/White Papers | Clinical Affairs | 03/01/2009

NHPC Toolkit to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care

 

Advocacy and Coalition Websites | 09/01/2008

Collection and Use of Race and Ethnicity Data for Quality Improvement–2006 AHIP- RWJF Survey of Health Insurance Plans - [PDF]

Over the past three years, health insurance plans have made significant strides in collecting race and ethnicity data of enrollees to help reduce disparities.  

Reports/Research/White Papers | 11/01/2006

Health Insurance Plans Address Disparities in Care: Highlights of AHIP/RWJF Quantitative and Qualitative Research - [PDF]

Health Insurance Plans Address Disparities in Care: Highlights of AHIP/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Quantitative and Qualitative Research Grant Provided By: 3 Health Insurance Plans Address Disparities in Care: Highlights of AHIP/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Quantitative and Qualitative Research BACKGROUND . . . .

Reports/Research/White Papers | 10/01/2005

Health Insurance Plans Address Disparities in Care: Challenges and Opportunities - [PDF]

In 2002, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a landmark report indicating that racial and ethnic minorities receive lower quality health care than non-minorities.

Reports/Research/White Papers | 06/01/2004

Health Insurance Plans Address Disparities in Care: Highlights of a 2004 AHIP/RWJF Survey - [PDF]

Health Insurance Plans Address Disparities in Care: Highlights of a 2004 AHIP/RWJF Quantitative Survey Collection and Use of Data on Race and Ethnicity Collection and Use of Data on Race and Ethnicity Americas Health Insurance Plans Background FAST FACTS The 137 plans that responded to the survey represent 88.1 million

Reports/Research/White Papers | 06/01/2004