BCBS Tennessee Unveils Health Disparities in First Health Equity Report

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee unveiled its first Health Equity Report Tuesday, which analyzed six topics of health disparities: behavioral health, cancer, child and adolescent care, chronic condition management, Covid-19 and maternal health.

The report serves as a way to understand the inequities that exist among its members to determine ways the payer can address the disparities, said Dr. Andrea Willis, chief medical officer of BCBS Tennessee.

“We wanted to get a better picture of the health issues and barriers to care faced by our members and Tennesseans as a whole, so that we could more effectively partner with health care providers to address those issues,” Willis said in a news release. “Understanding this data helps support progress that will ultimately deliver better health for everyone, regardless of their background.”

The payer split its data by health plan because “generally speaking, Medicaid members tend to face more social risk factors and health disparities than people with commercial health plans,” the report stated. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee covers more than 3.3 million members.

Below are some of the findings from the health equity report:

  • White members are generally more likely to access antidepressants: More than 60% of White members in commercial plans are able to receive antidepressants, compared to 56.9% of Asian members, 50% of Hispanic members and 46.9% of Black members. For BlueCare (its Medicaid program), 49.1% of Asian members are able to access antidepressants, versus 38.8% of White members, 35.9% of Hispanic members and 25.7% of Black members.
  • White members enrolled in commercial plans are more likely to gain access to screenings for colorectal cancer, breast cancer and cervical cancer than other populations. However, White members in BlueCare are less likely to get cancer screenings, and ranked the lowest for breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings. For example, 49.1% of White members are able to access breast cancer screenings, compared to 61.9% of Asian members, 60.3% of Black members and 55.4% of Hispanic members.
  • Nearly 60% of Asian commercial members are likely to access child and adolescent visits, versus 47.2% of Black members, 54.2% of Hispanic members and 53% of White members. For BlueCare members, however, 62.8% of Hispanic members are likely to access child and adolescent visits, versus 59.3% of Asian members, 51.8% of White members and 49.4% of Black members.
  • Black members (commercial and BlueCare) are the most likely to have Covid-19 positive cases, be hospitalized for Covid-19 and be treated in the intensive care unit for Covid-19. Conversely, Asian members are the least likely for all three categories.
  • Generally, Black members are less likely to receive prenatal and postpartum care, compared to other members. For example, 60.7% of Black BlueCare members are likely to receive postpartum care, versus 77.6% of Asian members, 69.2% of Hispanic members and 65.2% of White members.
  • When it comes to chronic condition management, such as eye exams and blood pressure, numbers vary widely for different populations, the report showed.

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