HR pros, it’s that time of year: you’re likely putting the finishing touches on your strategies, finalizing budgets, and gearing up for what’s ahead. But before you finalize your plans, there’s an important conversation we need to add to the mix: how do we address the inequities that continue to plague our healthcare system?
While it’s clear that these socioeconomic disparities deserve some much-needed attention, health equity isn’t at the forefront of employers’ conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace—and it should be. Why? Because we still have so much work to do:
So it’s not just imperative that employers do their part to make health equity a reality—it’s urgent. We caught up with DEI experts Tanya Ladha and Ian Gibbs-Hall to explore how HR pros can implement a health equity strategy at their own organizations. Here’s what they had to say.
Check out the full recording of Confronting the Health Equity Gap: Building Your HR Action Plan.
What is health equity?
Health equity is still a fairly new concept, and not many of us are experts yet. In fact, recent Jellyvision data shows that there’s still a lot of confusion among HR folks about this topic and its meaning:
So to start our conversation, we asked our experts to level-set with a simple definition of health equity:
Tanya added that it’s about examining our organization’s healthcare processes to determine how well we’re supporting our employees, and where there are gaps:
Why is now the right time for employers to focus on health equity?
While there’s still room to grow our understanding around health equity in the HR world, there’s good news—we all agree that it should be a priority:
So even though we’re collectively learning what health equity means, it’s good to see that HR pros already understand that we have a moral imperative to advance equity within our own companies. But we’re still in the very early stages of implementing health equity strategies at the organizational level:
We asked our panelists why there’s urgency to address the health equity problem now. They reminded us that our employees are demanding it, and there’s no time to wait:
Recent social unrest has put a spotlight on the inequity and discrimination that have plagued our nation’s institutions for far too long. In response, employees are holding their employers accountable to do more—and that includes healthcare. So employers are stepping up to the plate to rebuild trust and recognize our employees’ health needs, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they make.
What’s causing differences in healthcare access for certain employee groups?
While a majority of us in HR are ready to admit that health equity should be a top initiative in 2023, our perceptions are off when it comes to how accessible our health plans are. In fact, a majority of HR pros think their benefits are already equitable:
But when we asked employees if they believe their organizations offer equal healthcare access to everyone, there were some discrepancies:
- Women were 9% more likely than men to say yes
- Cisgender employees were 11% more likely than trans, non-binary, and genderqueer employees to say yes
- Heterosexual employees were 17% more likely than LGBTQ employees to say yes
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. So what gives? Why are there so many differences in how each employee chooses, uses, and engages with their benefits?
Tanya added that it’s not just about providing employees with the right resources. It’s also about making employees aware of what’s already available to them:
What are some real-life examples of health equity in action?
Let’s get to the good stuff. Companies are acknowledging that they have a personal responsibility to make health equity happen within their own organizations:
So how do we achieve that goal? What specific tactics have real companies used when it comes to health equity?
Tanya added that there’s a lot more we can do when it comes to equitable healthcare pricing as well:
How do you build a health equity strategy?
Building a health equity strategy can feel like boiling the ocean…so where do we start?
Data emerged as a common theme during our discussion. Ian and Tanya both acknowledged that we can’t achieve equality when bias and anecdotal evidence are involved, so crunching numbers is a huge piece of the health equity pie.
In one example, Tanya shared that Financial Health Network partners with a company that provides managers with a quarterly healthcare usage report, so that they have an understanding of where their teams are focused when it comes to health. Creating “well-being ambassadors” is a boots-on-the-ground approach that gives employers a better idea of their employees’ needs, and offers an additional communication channel to drive benefits awareness.
Take the next step towards health equity
Congrats! Just by reading this blog post, you’ve already started on your journey towards achieving health equity at your organization. But the challenge doesn’t stop here.
It’s time to put the wheels in motion to drive trust with your employees, increase communication, and finally put the right benefits in the right hands, at the right time. But those goals aren’t possible without the right technology.