Employers are also using evaluation tools, such as eValue 8, to assess how health plans are tackling health disparities. The survey tool allows employers to look at health plans' performance in such areas as health information technology adoption, communications, disease management, provider performance, and patient safety. eValue8 also includes questions about how health plans are dealing with disparity-related activities, according to Mathematica.
Although there have been advances, most employers are still not aware of the problem. Higgins suggests four ways to reverse the trend:
Addressing these problems is not just a feel-good issue. This is a bottom line problem that the healthcare system will need to address as the face of this nation continues to change.
"Until employers recognize the business case for reducing disparities—lower healthcare costs and potentially a more productive workforce—employer interest is unlikely to gain serious traction," says Higgins.