Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care

In both the public and private sectors, there is growing interest in what health insurance plans can do to identify and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health care. Health plans need data on the race and ethnicity of their members to determine where disparities exist, but finding effective and reliable data collection sources is challenging. Employers have emerged as a potential source of self-reported race and ethnicity data, yet only a few health plans and employers have worked together on this front.

Through interviews with large employers, health plan representatives, government officials and national experts, Mathematica Policy Research developed an issue brief which explores health plan and employer partnerships to address disparities. The brief also looks at barriers to partnerships and discusses strategies to encourage increased involvement of employers.

The brief includes insights from the National Health Plan Collaborative—a project originally funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and now funded by America’s Health Insurance Plans—which brings together 11 major health insurance plans to identify ways to improve the quality of health care for racially and ethnically diverse populations.