Expanding Health Equity

For us, expanding health equity has always meant creating more access to better care, especially for those who currently lack it now—people of color.

When we first announced our transition to focusing on health equity, we outlined three clear steps to our approach. It started with enrollment, which stemmed from a legal mandate, and ultimately led to a well-designed exchange to find plans and plenty of resources to help people navigate the process of getting covered.

But while having more people ensured makes health equity possible, it does not make it probable unless they use that coverage to get better care.

This means helping people 1) understand how their health insurance works 2) navigate our complicated system of care when they need to 3) find a suitable medical home where they can confidently go for care.

At CT Health, our mission states, “Everyone deserves the opportunity for optimal health, regardless of race, ethnicity, background, or income level.”

The Affordable Care Act presented a unique opportunity to create the type of systems change necessary for us to realize this mission. In order for us to expand health equity for all of our residents, we need to realize the full potential of ACA. That means rethinking what being covered really means for our residents.

Nearly 97% of our residents have insurance coverage.

But what does it say when 32% of insured Americans who are low or middle income STILL went without needed care last year?

What Coverage Really Means

Coverage is not measured by how many people have insurance. It is measured by how well people are using that insurance. In other words, do they understand their insurance coverage? Are they able to access the health care system appropriately? Will this allow them to be as healthy as they can be?

Our Approach To Expanding Health Equity Remains Simple AND is Becoming Clearer

  1. Get and Stay Enrolled
    • While most residents have a card, we need to make sure they stay enrolled and get the right kind of plan for them. Currently, too many are just selecting plans based on premium costs, inadvertently creating disincentives to get proper care when they realize these plans come with high deductibles and co-pays.
  2. Navigate the Health Care System
    • Our effort must now shift to helping people answer four basic questions:
      • How do I use the card (i.e., literacy around what is covered, what co-pays and co-insurance mean)
      • Where do I use the card (i.e., helping them find a medical home and understanding who takes coverage and why)
      • When do I use the card? (i.e., educating people about the prevention and wellness benefits that go above and beyond urgent or emergency needs.)
      • Why do I use this card? (i.e., when we use our insurance wisely, we are healthier and happier.
  3. Access Better Care
    • Finally, make sure that their providers are offering the kind of care we all want to receive – care that is affordable, comprehensive (including mental, oral and physical health), and accountable to the goal of improving our health.
    • There are longer term concerns that also need to be addressed
      • How can we make sure the right incentives are there for payers, providers and patients to cover, provide and receive quality care?
      • How do we help payers and providers navigate their end of the equation in a way that alleviates anxieties and keeps them from “checking out”?

To learn more about how our new focus on Health Equity and What Coverage Really Mean, please download the infographics below:

Our New Focus on Health Equity
What Coverage Really Means