Independence Blue Cross (Independence) has earned Health Equity Accreditation from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) for all its insurance plans. Only approximately five percent of accredited plans nationally have been awarded this recognition for their health equity work. The three-year Health Equity Accreditation recognizes and validates Independence’s commitment to address the root causes of health inequity. It also supports the current work the organization has been doing to dismantle structural racism and create health justice for all.
“We are extremely proud to be among the select five percent of accredited health plans in the country to earn this important Health Equity Accreditation. NCQA’s recognition is a true testament to our commitment to address the root causes of health inequity and create healthier outcomes for every person in every community we serve,” said Independence Blue Cross President and CEO Gregory E. Deavens.
NCQA awards Health Equity Accreditation to organizations that meet or exceed its rigorous requirements for health equity. To earn it, health plans must show that they have a standardized framework in place to carry out their health equity efforts and an internal culture that supports those efforts. They must also conduct work that helps reduce health inequities and improve care, as well as have a way to collect data on race, ethnicity, language, gender identity, and sexual orientation. This information helps make certain that the health plan offers services and provider networks that are mindful of their members’ cultural and linguistic needs.
“The prevalence of racial and ethnic disparities has been a barrier to improving the quality of health care of many Americans for too long,” said NCQA President Margaret E. O’Kane. “Organizations achieving Health Equity Accreditation are leaders in closing this gap, and NCQA commends them for their dedication.”
Earning this Health Equity Accreditation gives Independence a roadmap to evaluate and advance the health of its members. More specifically, it helps Independence in its ongoing efforts to:
- Remove race adjustments from clinical decision support tools and eliminate beliefs in medicine that have existed for decades, and which can lead to poorer outcomes and contribute to inequities in care for members. Independence announced last month that it convened a Regional Coalition to Eliminate Race-Based Medicine with health systems in the area.
- Reduce racial disparities in severe maternal morbidity, depression screening, diabetes control, and many more. One of the efforts Independence has underway to address maternal health outcomes is through support of unconscious bias training for birth workers through the March of Dimes.
- Give members and the community more opportunities to share feedback and participate in advisory committees. Independence hosted a member and community Health Equity Summit in 2022.
- Collaborate with community partners, health systems, and universities to identify critical social determinant needs and barriers to health care access in the region. Provide support where most essential. Independence’s current collaborations include: Accelerate Health Equity, Baby BluePrints®, Cocolife.black, Dedicated Senior Medical Centers, Oak Street Health, Uno Health, and the Well City Challenge.
- Communicate urgent health equity messaging through innovative public health campaigns, such as: Our Community. Our Health., Know Your Mind, #mindPHL Together, and Beat COVID-19. Independence also publishes a Health Equity blog series on IBX Insights.
- Support the people and organizations serving communities in southeastern Pennsylvania to improve access to care and increase educational opportunities through the Independence Blue Cross Foundation. The IBX Foundation Institute for Health Equity was launched in 2022 to advance health equity in the region and nation and held its inaugural Health Equity Forum in spring 2023.