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Health Insurers, Employers Could Play Key Roles in Tackling Healthcare Disparities

Les Masterson, for HealthLeaders Media, August 12, 2009

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:

  1. Health insurers must educate employers about the importance of the problem and the associated costs of the disparities.

  2. Health insurers must educate employers about the legality of collecting data and sharing it with insurers.

  3. Employers must understand the added up-front financial burden of surveying the data, but appreciate the long-term financial benefits associated with closing the health disparities gap.

  4. National leaders must encourage more employer participation in programs that target racial and ethnic disparities.

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.


Les Masterson is an editor for HealthLeaders Media.

Follow Les Masterson on Twitter.


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