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Health Equity - Closing the Gap

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) and the 36 Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies, encourage care delivery that is safe, effective and equitable. To reach this goal, it is important to identify and address issues that prevent consumers from receiving the best care possible.

However, research shows that disparities do exist among minority groups within the population.  These gaps in quality of care or health outcomes observed when comparing different populations are referred to as healthcare disparities.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) 2011 National Healthcare Disparities Report, data indicate that racial and ethnic minorities populations, on average, receive poorer healthcare and suffer higher rates of avoidable complications (e.g., late stage cancers, amputations, healthcare-associated infections) compared to non-minorities populations.  According to the report:

  • Black women are more likely to die in childbirth or be diagnosed with advanced stage breast cancer compared to White women.
  • Asians are less likely than Whites to have a primary care doctor and those age 65 and over are also less likely to receive recommended pneumococcal vaccinations.
  • Hispanics are less likely to receive recommended diabetes care, heart failure inpatient care and timely emergency care compared to non-Hispanics.
  • American Indians and Alaskan Natives are less likely than Whites to receive recommended colorectal cancer screenings.

Collectively, Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies provide coverage for nearly 100 million individuals and are working to meet the needs of the nation’s increasingly diverse population. Additionally, the Blue System supports the goals of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) National Stakeholder Strategy for Achieving Health Equity, which promotes raising awareness, strengthening leadership, focusing on outcomes, promoting cultural competency and utilizing data to help reduce healthcare disparities.