What’s First? Healthfirst ADVANCE Health Equity Approach Grounded In 30 Years Of Experience

November 18, 2021

Healthfirst, one of the nation’s first value-based health insurers, is sharing ​Healthfirst ADVANCE — its evidence-based approach to closing health equity gaps among members/patients.

Based on programs Healthfirst has implemented in downstate New York for nearly 30 years, Healthfirst ADVANCE highlights a series of best practices shown to reduce issues of equity in the healthcare system.

Healthfirst ADVANCE also serves as a call to action to other health insurers across the nation to be part of the movement to advance health equity and implement programs to address the long-standing gaps that the pandemic further exposed.

Founded in 1993 by 15 leading New York hospital systems to align incentives around better health outcomes and greater access to quality care, Healthfirst has embedded health equity in its operational model. Today, the insurer serves 1 in 5 New York City residents, including more than one-third of the city’s Medicaid population. Its membership is one of the most diverse among health plans in the United States, with members who speak more than 70 different languages.

“After nearly 30 years in the business of fighting for health equity, we continue to see everything we do through that lens,” said Pat Wang, president, and CEO of Healthfirst. “Health insurance companies can be used as a force for good that can be mobilized to help in a deeper, more meaningful way. We work hard to keep our 1.7 million members healthy and ensure they all have access to high-quality care when they need it. No one should lack access to the healthcare they need and deserve. All New Yorkers should have the opportunity to live their healthiest lives.”

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According to Wang, Healthfirst is committed to continuing to share its learnings and best practices regarding health equity with the healthcare community. Healthfirst will also continue to work closely with its hospital system sponsors and others in the industry and the community to create collaborative advancement to close the health equity gap.

Built on health equity

Healthfirst ADVANCE calls on health insurers, hospitals, physicians, community organizations, and governments to work together towards healthcare that is:

  • Available to all people, with equal opportunity to access quality care
  • Data-informed to close gaps in care and support care continuity and coordination
  • Value-driven through hospital, physician, and insurer alignment around optimal health outcomes
  • Accessible when and where help is needed, so everyone is surrounded with opportunities for healthcare access and continuous insurance with no gaps
  • Nurturing and human-centered so it is easy to engage with and navigate
  • Community-based with strong ties to services and resources that promote whole-person care and address social determinants of health
  • Evidence-based with the best available clinical expertise and research guiding every treatment plan, care decision, and public-health intervention  

Communicating evidence-based outcomes

In support of its hospital system partners, providers, health agencies, and community organizations, Healthfirst is committed to sharing key learnings from programs that improve critical areas such as maternal health, senior care transitions, hypertension, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, asthma, behavioral health, and others.

For instance, Healthfirst and Mount Sinai Health System developed a program to address racial disparities in maternal mortality. New moms with at least one risk factor for postpartum complications and/or poor
long-term health outcomes receive educational materials, connections to community resources, ongoing outreach after delivery, and reimbursement for transportation. This bundle of support drove an 11% increase in the rate of postpartum visits, which is shown to positively impact the health of a new mom, and it was included in official recommendations for postpartum care in New York State in January 2021. Healthfirst
View case studies and learn more at ADVANCE | Healthfirst.

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