Healthfirst releases road map to addressing health equity, gaps in care

Healthfirst is launching a primer on its evidence-based approach to identifying and closing health gaps in its membership, which it is calling ADVANCE.

The New York-based insurer hopes ADVANCE serves as a call-to-action to its peers in the industry to advance health equity and work toward addressing health gaps that were worsened and highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Healthfirst's membership is hugely diverse, the insurer said, with members that speak 70 different languages. It serves 1 in 5 New York City residents, including more than a third of the city's Medicaid population, which lends to significant experience in finding and addressing health equity challenges.

“After nearly 30 years in the business of fighting for health equity, we continue to see everything we do through that lens,” said Healthfirst President and CEO Pat Wang in a statement.

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“Health insurance companies can be used as a force for good that can be mobilized to help in a deeper, more meaningful way," Wang said. "We work hard to keep our 1.7 million members healthy and ensure they all have access to high-quality care when they need it. No one should lack access to healthcare they need and deserve. All New Yorkers should have the opportunity to live their healthiest lives.”

ADVANCE is an acronym that stands for:

  • Available to everyone, offering an equal opportunity to obtain quality care
  • Data-informed, allowing the insurer to identify and close gaps in care as well as support care coordination
  • Value-driven, aligning all stakeholders around optimal health outcomes
  • Accessible, so each member is "surrounded" by opportunities to seek care and continuous coverage
  • Nurturing and human-centered
  • Community-based to promote whole-person care and address social health needs
  • Evidence-based, ensuring each decision is backed by the latest clinical guidance

For example, Healthfirst teamed up with Mount Sinai Health System to develop a program tackling racial disparities in maternal mortality. Through the initiative, new moms who were at risk for postpartum complications or poor long-term health outcomes were armed with educational materials, referrals to community resources, ongoing outreach after birth and reimbursement for transportation.

The program led to an 11% increase in postpartum visits, which is shown to improve the health of new moms, Healthfirst said.