SOURCE: National Business Group on Health

March 08, 2013 09:00 ET

National Business Group on Health Honors Aetna, Highmark, Prudential Financial With Awards for Reducing Health Care Disparities

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - Mar 8, 2013) - The National Business Group on Health, a non-profit association of more than 360 large, U.S. employers, today honored Aetna, Highmark Inc. and Prudential Financial for their ongoing commitment to reducing health care disparities in the workplace and for supporting a diverse workforce. The companies were recognized with "Awards for Innovation in Reducing Health Care Disparities." The awards were presented at the National Business Group on Health's 2013 Business Health Agenda conference held in Washington, DC.

In presenting the awards, Helen Darling, President and CEO of the National Business Group on Health, commented: "We are very pleased to honor Aetna, Highmark and Prudential Financial for their relentless efforts and innovative approaches to reduce health care disparities. More and more companies understand just how important it is that their health care benefit programs meet the needs of a culturally diverse workforce. These three employers recognize that by addressing health care disparities, they are improving the value, quality and effectiveness of the health care services their employees receive."

The key components of Aetna, Highmark and Prudential Financial's award-winning programs are:

Aetna's Racial and Ethnic Equality Initiative addresses health issues that disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minority populations. With race and ethnicity information voluntarily provided by more than 6 million Aetna members, Aetna can analyze their medical claims, lab records and pharmacy data to uncover health disparities and create programs to improve the quality of care for everyone. Aetna's "health equity dashboard" allows the company to understand where disparities exist by race and ethnicity as well as by geography. The dashboard is updated annually to target the most actionable areas for focus, such as diabetes, depression and hypertension management, mammography screening, and prevention of premature labor. Most recently, Aetna launched a program in Delaware that helps Hispanic and African-American members struggling with asthma. The initiative combines culturally appropriate outreach including age-appropriate member educational materials, nurse outreach, optional home environmental assessments and physician engagement. Early results show a significant reduction in avoidable asthma emergency room visits and hospital stays.

Highmark Inc.
Highmark's Health Equity & Quality Services (HEQS) leads the company's efforts to reduce disparities and improve the delivery of culturally and linguistically appropriate services. Through targeted programs HEQS proactively works to advance members' health and wellness. Highmark's 20,000 employees receive ongoing diversity and inclusion training. Highmark employees who interact with customers can access CultureVision™, an online database of cultural information to increase the capacity and skills needed to address the health care needs of all individuals. To reinforce cultural awareness on an ongoing basis, Highmark employees can participate in educational forums, access online training and a lunchtime film series. Direct data collection remains a necessary first step in addressing health disparities and is conducted of Highmark members and insured employees on a voluntary basis. Employee representatives from various business areas within the company serve on an advisory committee that oversees enterprise efforts dedicated to reducing health care disparities, enhancing health literacy, and providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS) for members.

Prudential Financial
Since 2006, Prudential Financial has been collecting health disparity trend data by gender, race/ethnicity, age and job levels in several areas, and regularly sharing data at vendor summits. The company requests that their partners keep them apprised of their efforts to decrease disparities and help identify opportunities to do greater good within its population. In 2011, Prudential launched its "Healthy Diabetic" chronic disease program. The company selected diabetes because of the incidence and ramifications of the disease within its population, the modifiable nature of the disease with targeted interventions and because its health disparity data showed a disproportionate incidence of the disease among African Americans, Asians and women in its population. The goal of the program was to enhance the client/nurse relationship with individualized and focused coaching toward helping the clients achieve glycemic control (A1C < 7%) and decrease their risk of complications from the disease, and toward empowering them to make healthy life style changes through appropriate referrals and education. 

"We know that health disparities affect all employers, and that failure to address them will seriously hurt the health, productivity and quality of life of their employees and dependents. The leadership teams at Aetna, Highmark and Prudential Financial understand the importance of reducing health disparities and we strongly encourage other employers to follow the lead of these leading organizations in addressing the issue of health care disparities," Darling concluded.

About the National Business Group on Health

The National Business Group on Health is the nation's only non-profit organization devoted exclusively to representing large employers' perspective on national health policy issues and providing practical solutions to its members' most important health care problems. The Business Group helps drive today's health agenda while promoting ideas for controlling health care costs, improving patient safety and quality of care and sharing best practices in health benefits management with senior benefits, HR professionals, and medical directors from leading corporations. Business Group members, which include 65 Fortune 100 companies, provide health coverage for more than 50 million U.S. workers, retirees and their families. For more information, visit

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