April is National Minority Health Month, and its theme is Bridging Health Equity Across Communities.
Our work at NCQA is rooted in ensuring health care quality for all, and our goal is to improve care and reduce health disparities. NCQA is passionate about helping health plans, practices and organizations do a better job of treating every patient, no matter their background, race or zip code.
Among the many ways NCQA “walks the walk” is through collaboration with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. With CMS, we developed a toolkit to help medical professionals improve care for minorities across the spectrum—for people with limited English proficiency, for sexual and gender minorities and for people with disabilities.
This April, we focus on diseases most common among minority groups: diabetes and high blood pressure.
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 10.8% of non-Hispanic Blacks, 10.6% of Mexican Americans and 9% of American Indians have diabetes, compared with 6.2% of Whites.
We see similar patterns with high blood pressure—it is among the highest in the world for African Americans. More than 40% of non-Hispanic African American men and women have high blood pressure, and it develops earlier in life and is usually more severe for African Americans.
Bridging Health Equity Across Communities
How does NCQA help bridge the health equity gap? For starters, we developed the widely used Healthcare Effectiveness and Data Information Set (or HEDIS) measures as a way to determine health plan effectiveness in key areas of health and to drive improvement. We also rate health plans, highlighting quality of care and patient satisfaction.
- Tufts Benefit Administrators, Inc.
- Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, Inc.
- Tufts Associated Health Maintenance Organization, Inc.
- Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. – Northern California
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts HMO Blue, Inc.
- Capital Health Plan, Inc.
Congrats to these health plans “walking the walk” with us to health care equity!