Blue Cross Team Works to Address Health Care Disparities
Disparities in health and health care impact people across our many communities. You may have heard the statistics about individuals living in rural communities who may have less access to care or African American men being three times more likely to be impacted by prostate cancer. These are two examples of disparities and research shows that they are increasing.
- A health disparity means one population group has a higher rate of illness, injury, disability or mortality when compared to another group. For example, in Michigan, African American mothers experience three times the risk of an infant death compared to white mothers.
- A health care disparity results when different population groups experience differences in health insurance coverage, access to and use of care, and quality of care. Health care disparities can result from a variety of factors, including social determinants of health.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is committed to helping to improve the health of all Michigan residents. One way we are doing this is by taking steps to address health care disparities through our policies, programs and initiatives. From the designation of Patient-Centered Medical Homes across the state to implementing community programs that provide education and information, we are taking strategic steps to help to decrease health care disparities.
Three years ago, we implemented a cross-functional Health Disparities Action Team to focus on creating a coordinated approach and to help ensure that we are asking the right questions in the right way to ensure that the needs of our diverse members are being met. We’re doing this by:
- Detecting and monitoring known health and health care disparities, and distinguishing what can be effectively addressed.
- Implementing policies and programs that help to address the health and health care disparities among African-American members, other minority ethnicities, members of the LGBTQ community and members of differing socio-economic levels.
- Influencing members to make healthy lifestyle choices and engage in regular preventive screenings.
- Partnering with stakeholders to provide education and information to members.
Through their work, the team has identified disparities in preventive screenings, emergency department visits and hospital readmission within 30 days.
“Helping to address health and health care disparities is a key objective of the Diversity and Inclusion Corporate Strategic Plan,” said Bridget Hurd, senior director, Diversity and Inclusion. “Promoting health equity and cultural competency in the delivery of health care is essential to achieving positive health outcomes for our members. The Health Disparities Action Team evaluates how we can impact health outcomes through our policy and programs.”
“It connects back to our whole social mission and our focus on creating a healthier Michigan,” Hurd continued.
The team is actively evaluating access, population health, cultural competency of internal and external stakeholders, how to partner with providers of care, and how to share what they learn.
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Photo credit: FatCamera