Study shows preventative care initiative effective in tackling healthcare inequities
Comptroller Natalie Braswell on Monday released a detailed health equity analysis of the state employee health plan, the first of its kind, and a set of corresponding recommendations to reduce racial and gender disparities across the state.
Braswell and Governor Ned Lamont have highlighted the importance of preventative care in addressing racial inequities in health care, citing the state’s Health Improvement Program (HEP), credited with reducing disparities race and ethnicity in cancer screening and chronic disease management.
“By prioritizing preventative care and breaking down barriers between patients and their doctors, the state’s plan effectively addresses the racial disparities that commonly plague the health care system,” said Controller Natalie Braswell. “Since the implementation of the HEP program, my office has heard from many members who were able to detect cancer early and now credit the program with saving their lives. Everyone in Connecticut deserves access to similar programs, no matter where they work or live.
“Life-saving preventative care must be readily available to everyone in our state,” said Governor Ned Lamont. “Regular screenings can detect the disease at an early stage, protecting patients from catastrophic health and financial problems. Our administration has prioritized expanding access to these services to address racial inequities and improve public health. I will continue to work directly with all parts of our health care industry to ensure that every Connecticut resident can access and pay for the care they need.
Last year’s budget adjustment (Public Law 22-118) includes a provision introduced by the Governor’s administration to require health carriers to offer versions of HEP to their enrolled members. These plans must be available by January 1, 2024.
The Health Equity Analysis compares medical and prescription drug claims under the Government Employees Health Plan to a benchmark of nearly 100 other health plans, including including multi-employer and public sector plans, covering nearly two million members. Usage data was used to measure racial and gender disparities in several key areas.
The state plan far exceeded the benchmark across all racial groups for screening for breast, prostate, colorectal and cervical cancers. Almost all racial groups also exceeded the benchmark for chronic disease management, including regular testing and medication adherence. This is largely due to the plan’s preventative care initiatives that encourage members to receive recommended age-based screenings.
Notable disparities were detected in emergency room visits. Black and Hispanic members were more likely to seek emergency care and less likely to receive preventive visits. The same is true for low-income members and in geographic areas where access to providers is limited. Nonwhite diet participants also had a higher prevalence of diabetes.
The analysis was carried out by Segal, a firm of independent actuaries, and in consultation with Health Equity Solutions (HES), who collaborated on the design of the study and its recommendations.
“HES applauds the State Employee Health Plan’s commitment to health equity and its willingness to build on its efforts to ensure its enrollees all have the opportunity to avoid illness and injury. preventable,” said Ayesha Clarke, Acting Managing Director of Health Equity Solutions. “Health inequalities persist at all income levels, and this study shows that government employees are no exception. What is exceptional is the commitment of the Office of the State Comptroller to assess and address these inequities, especially for Black, Latino/a and other people of color enrolled in the United States Health Plan. state employees. We are pleased to see the report made public and look forward to hearing how the recommendations to improve data collection and access to preventive health care will be implemented.
Among the report’s recommendations, the state’s health plan should survey members to identify the causes of persistent disparities, expand communications with members, and continue to work directly with doctors, hospitals and provider groups to eliminate barriers to care.
More broadly, the recommendations include an expansion of statewide preventive care by offering a version of the state’s Health Enhancement Program (HEP) to more residents. Increased access to affordable high-speed Internet is recommended to address telehealth disparities, especially in low-income communities.
“This analysis shows many areas where the state’s health plan is effectively addressing persistent health care disparities, particularly in cancer screenings and chronic disease treatment,” said Braswell Controller. “It also shows areas where there is room for improvement and many recommendations that the state health plan and other health plans across the state can implement to further address racial disparities and gender throughout the health system. It is our shared responsibility to make health care affordable and accessible to everyone in Connecticut. Every healthcare organization should engage in this type of review to identify its own strengths and weaknesses, and then take action. We need more data, at all levels, to better diagnose the causes of disparities and continue to develop effective solutions. »
Comptroller Braswell administers the Connecticut State Health Plan, the largest employer-based plan in the state, covering more than 250,000 state and municipal workers, retirees, and dependents. The analysis uses data from the state employee health plan, the largest and most robust dataset.
The report can be viewed on the Monitor’s website, here: osc.ct.gov/reports
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