In addition to being an important source of health insurance coverage, employers have opportunities to help address racial disparities in health conditions through the design and structure of their benefits and other employee services. For example, benefits can be structured to encourage relationships with primary care providers to help address the fact that people of color who have health coverage often lack a reliable source of care. As some of the nation’s largest employers, Business Roundtable companies can play an important role in identifying these opportunities and strategies to address them. Participating Business Roundtable companies will engage in a Health Equity Benefit Evaluation Initiative to identify employee health benefit practices that may reduce racial health disparities for employees.
Implicit bias in health care can adversely influence care and outcomes for people of color. When organizations prioritize diversity, equity and inclusivity and implement strategies to reduce implicit bias, they are taking important steps to ensure that people of color receive equitable, safe and appropriate care. Participating Business Roundtable companies will work with health plans and other health care partners to understand diversity, equity and inclusion (D,E &I) practices of the organizations that provide health care services to their employees and promote D,E & I practices to address implicit bias.
Especially during the COVID-19 public health emergency, expansion of telehealth services has provided crucial access to health care, particularly for communities of color that have traditionally lacked access to reliable sources of primary care. Medicare and Medicaid programs, as well as many companies, have provided additional coverage flexibilities during the pandemic to allow broader access to telehealth services. Business Roundtable supports efforts to expand telehealth coverage to employees of color and others during the pandemic and beyond.
Business Roundtable will convene members to share insights and develop strategies in several areas:
- Accurate and complete race and ethnicity data is needed to identify where racial disparities in key health conditions and health care utilization exist. This data provides health care organizations the opportunity to improve access and utilization of care for people of color, and to understand when interventions are successful in reducing disparities. Business Roundtable will work with members to develop strategies to help address barriers that inhibit the appropriate collection and use of race and ethnicity data to improve health outcomes.
- Racial disparities in health outcomes are the product of more than just traditional health care provided in clinical settings. Social determinants of health (SDOH) are the economic and social factors, such as economic stability, education, safe housing and access to nutritious food, that significantly affect health. Black Americans are more likely to experience disadvantages in these factors. Business Roundtable will convene members to discuss business’ role in addressing SDOH and develop a SDOH Roadmap that businesses can use to engage in community partnerships to address SDOH. This initiative will provide companies with actionable steps they can take to partner with local communities to address SDOH in the communities in which they do business.
- Since people of color are more likely to be impacted by adverse SDOHs, some are also likely to experience immediate, non-medical or “social” needs, which impact their health and ability to participate fully in the economy. Companies can provide invaluable support to their employees by identifying and taking steps to meet these non-medical needs. Business Roundtable will convene member companies to develop strategies to identify and address aggregate, anonymized social needs for their employees.