Addressing national studies showing that racial, ethnic and socioeconomic disparities affect health care outcomes, BlueChoice HealthPlan of South Carolina has concentrated efforts to adapt to the needs of South Carolina’s diverse populations.
The National Healthcare Disparities Report (http://www.ahrq.gov/qual/nhdr08/nhdr08.pdf) by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, clearly demonstrated that these disparities have an impact on health care at all points in the process, at all sites of care, and for all medical conditions. Other groups, such as the Kaiser Family Foundation, also have reported disparities.
BlueChoice HealthPlan, whose South Carolina members are diverse in age, race, ethnicity, income level, geography (rural vs. urban) and gender, recognizes that these differences contribute to how individuals view their health, what their health care needs are, and what they need from their health plans.
“In the past, sometimes it was more socially acceptable not to focus on differences. But we know that certain health conditions disproportionately affect certain segments of the population,” said BlueChoice HealthPlan Vice President of Health Services Rolanda Aiken, RN, MPH. “We need to talk about differences as they relate to health, so people learn what they need to know and do what they need to do to prevent problems.”
Recognizing this, BlueChoice HealthPlan has modified educational materials for specific populations, hired staff to specialize in these populations, and sent staff into the community to reach out to these populations.
Health and disease management program educational materials are available in English and Spanish and tailored in content to an ethnically diverse audience. For example, BlueChoice HealthPlan produced cookbooks on how to adapt less healthy ethnic favorites, and brochures addressing the unique risk factors for certain conditions in some minority groups.
Educational materials represent both genders of varying ages and are available in a range of reading levels. Additionally, the health specialists who educate members by phone are ethnically diverse and range in age from 25 to 75.
In the community, BlueChoice HealthPlan was a major sponsor of the first Rural Health Conference, held in Orangeburg, S.C., last year, and is helping to plan the next one scheduled for September 2010. The health and disease management staff volunteer at community events, such as the Healthy Hoops asthma program held at sites statewide, South Carolina Conference on Diabetes (formerly known as the African American Conference on Diabetes), and health fairs and disease screenings at venues that attract diverse populations.
These experienced clinicians also are partnering with state and national organizations to train other clinical and community educators to provide culturally competent care to diverse and multicultural populations.
About BlueChoice HealthPlan of South Carolina:
Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., BlueChoice HealthPlan of South Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BlueChoice HealthPlan has an A+ rating from A.M. Best and an Excellent accreditation status, the highest level awarded, from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). BlueChoice HealthPlan offers four categories of group health plans, as well as individual plans for children and young adults, and a South Carolina Medicaid product