"Across the nation, gaps in health are large, persistent and increasing. Health equity means everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be healthier. It acknowledges that it's hard to be healthy without access to good jobs, homes and schools. It requires concerted effort to increase opportunities to be healthier for everyone — especially those whose obstacles are greatest."3
— Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Health equity involves the development of initiatives, policies, procedures, and practices to help ensure that all people have the opportunity to be as healthy as possible.1 At AmeriHealth Caritas, health equity is embedded in everything we do, including our:
- Culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS).
- Diverse hiring practices and company culture.
- Community involvement.
- Provider support.
- Member care.
A key aspect of our mission is to work to reduce health disparities in the communities we serve and help ensure that everyone has equal access to quality health care — regardless of age, sex, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, education level, ability, or wealth.
Health disparities are factors that reduce health equity. They can occur for many reasons, including systemic and historic barriers and biases, health literacy, and language barriers. Some obstacles to health are also rooted in the social determinants of health, such as education, safe housing, nutrition, and employment.2 Inadequate access to one or more of these areas also contributes to health inequalities.
Our approach to health equity
Through our Next Generation Model of Care, we take a multifaceted approach to health equity.
We not only work to address the social determinants to help members get access to important resources and lead healthier lives, but we also focus on delivering culturally appropriate care — engaging with, and caring for, patients with diverse social, cultural, behavioral, and linguistic needs.4 By celebrating and respecting the language and culture of our members, we can better provide them with the resources and information they need to get care and stay well.
From educating providers and training our employees about cultural differences to offering translation services and member materials in multiple languages, our health plans are distinctly focused on cultural competency.
All of our health plans follow the national CLAS standards for care, communication, and governance. That means meeting our members where they are, connecting with local community resources, and providing support that meets their diverse needs. We require everyone who interacts with our membership to be aware of health equity and cultural, racial, ethnic, and linguistic concerns.
As a result of these efforts, seven of our 11 health plans have been awarded the prestigious Multicultural Health Care (MHC) Distinction by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). MHC Distinction is a rigorous standard that recognizes our provision of culturally and linguistically appropriate services to our members.
- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, “What is Health Equity?” May 1, 2017, https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2017/05/what-is-health-equity-.html.
- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, “Achieving Health Equity,” https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/features/achieving-health-equity.html.
- Health Research and Educational Trust, “Becoming a Culturally Competent Health Care Organization,” June 2013, https://www.aha.org/ahahret-guides/2013-06-18-becoming-culturally-competent-health-care-organization.