Using data-based evaluation techniques and a rigorous dedication to quality, the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) is one of the nation’s most respected healthcare quality measurement organizations. Elevance Health has recently demonstrated our dedication to advancing health equity by undergoing NCQA’s first full Health Equity accreditation survey. As a result, 22 of our Medicaid plans are some of the first in the nation to earn a full three-year NCQA Health Equity Accreditation. This brings 93% of our 8 million Medicaid members into an accredited plan, which is an industry first. While many companies can say they are committed to health equity, this accreditation validates we are leaders in doing the work to advance health equity.
Why does health equity matter to Elevance Health? Driven by our purpose to improve the health of humanity, we recognize that unique life circumstances and experiences impact every individual and their health. When we look more broadly at what drives health, we see there are social and behavioral factors affecting health as well as the physical. This is where health equity becomes an important factor. We believe everyone deserves access to quality healthcare, clean air, stable housing, transportation, and nutritious food — access that leads to better health. When some of us don’t have equitable access, everyone is affected. Health inequity causes higher illness and death rates and greater financial strain on communities and the nation.
Elevance Health is working to advance health equity across all our plans through an approach we call “health equity by design.” It’s our personalized and intentional approach to ensure that all people, regardless of race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, and geographic or financial access can receive individualized care. We have comprehensive, long-term goals to broadly advance health equity, such as ensuring people with disabilities and rural residents can find accessible care. With this accreditation, NCQA provided an opportunity to demonstrate how this is working with 22 of our Medicaid plans.
Benefits to Members
While our plans received the accreditation, it is the 8 million Medicaid members and their communities that receive the real benefits of this work, such as:
- A network of healthcare professionals and a healthcare company with the capability to meet their diverse needs
- The ability to speak and be understood in their language of choice when seeking care from health professionals or interacting with Elevance Health associates
- Receiving treatment and services from providers grounded in cultural humility
- Having coverage through an organization dedicated to hiring, retaining, promoting, and attracting diverse staff
It is especially relevant that our Medicaid plans received this accreditation because the plans cover many people who historically have been medically underserved or socially and economically marginalized: those living with disabilities, those with low income, and a segment of seniors. Having a respected, national leader like NCQA validate our progress in increasing health equity confirms we are making a difference for these members, their families, and their communities.
Health Equity by Design
To advance health equity, Elevance Health takes an intentional approach in our teams, partnerships, products, policies, practices and most importantly, relationships and services. We lean into a consumer-informed approach to health and well-being that addresses existing inequities. We are cultivating and sustaining a system that advances health equity by collaborating with care and service providers and communities, tailoring policies and programs, and supporting greater access to care.
The tenets of our “health equity by design” approach include:
- Expanding and standardizing the collection, analysis, and reporting of member data
- Enhancing provider capacity, incentives, and accountability to deliver on advancing health equity
- Identifying and scaling best practices for health outcome improvement
- Cultivating and sustaining an enterprise culture of health equity
- Innovating to drive improved access and affordability
To equip our leaders with the tools and resources needed to address health equity among populations vulnerable to systemic inequity, we recently sent 20 Medicaid leaders to participate in the "Leadership Development to Advance Equity in Health Care” course designed by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Leaders in Health Equity
NCQA was founded in the 1990s with the purpose of measuring a robust number of activities and outcomes of health plans and accrediting those who met their rigorous standards. Known early on for its groundbreaking Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) standards, measurements, and accreditation, NCQA has continued to be a leader in measuring the quality of medical providers and practices. Most recently, it has brought its standards and measurements to health equity.
NCQA and Elevance Health both understand that being industry leaders brings responsibilities. We’re setting an example by being the first national plan to undergo a full accreditation survey. Planning, preparing for, and undergoing the survey can take over a year. It’s time well spent because it leads to the ultimate goal: advancing health equity because everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible.
While this accreditation applies to our Medicaid plans, we are also dedicated to advancing health equity through all our health plans. We believe it’s important that all the people we serve – regardless of race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, and geographic or financial access — can receive individualized care that demonstrates cultural humility and improves their health and well-being.