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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 demonstrated our dedication to advancing health equity for a second year in a row, this time becoming one of the first organizations to earn NCQA’s Health Equity Plus accreditation. Earned by health plans that collect data on community social risk factors and individuals’ health-related social needs (HRSN), this designation means more than 10 million people, or 93% of our Medicaid membership, are covered by an accredited plan. While many companies can say they are committed to health equity, this accreditation is further evidence of our commitment as leaders in doing the work to advance health equity. It shows we are making good on our commitment to prioritize the health needs of communities that have been historically marginalized.

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, 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 rates of illness and premature death, and greater financial strain on communities and the nation.

This accreditation validates our “health equity by design” approach because it evaluated the social resources Elevance Health-affiliated plans offer: our partnerships with community-based organizations (CBOs) and the progress we’ve made in helping more members get support for the HRSN that affect their health. This personalized and intentional approach is designed for everyone, regardless of race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, and geographic or socio-economic status, to receive fair and individualized care. We continue to work on our comprehensive, long-term goals to broadly advance health equity, such as ensuring people with disabilities and rural residents can find accessible care.

Benefits to Members

While our plans received the accreditation, it is the 10 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 healthcare 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 have experienced barriers to equitable and inclusive healthcare: people with disabilities, people earning low incomes, and older adults. Having a respected, national leader like NCQA validate our progress in advancing health equity further confirms we are making a difference for these members, their families, and their communities.

With the health equity plus designation, NCQA recognizes that Elevance Health-affiliated plans are further along on their health equity journey as measured by NCQA. It means we are establishing partnerships that support community-based organizations, building meaningful opportunities for individual engagement, and identifying opportunities to improve HRSN referral processes and the CBO partnerships that make them possible.

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

We continue to equip our leaders with the tools and resources needed to address health equity among populations experiencing inequities. In the last year, we have sent nearly 100 associates 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 the health equity plus 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.

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