Equality to Healthcare
WellPoint, No. 42 on The 2008 DiversityInc Top 50
Companies for Diversity® list, is a health-benefits industry leader in its efforts to reduce healthcare disparities
among historically underrepresented groups, irrespective of race or insurance
status. WellPoint, an independent licensee of the
Blue Cross and Blue Shield
Association in 14 states,
has this year begun rolling
out pilot programs in New
York City and California.
In New York City, the company is working with
the American Cancer Society to educate physicians at
community centers, treatment centers and hospitals
about historically low breast cancer-screening rates
among Black women. This fall, WellPoint is providing
diabetes screening and culturally optimized education
to Blacks and Latinos in southern California. The program will reach targeted populations—both members
and nonmembers—through certain employers, community centers and mobile-screening clinics within diverse neighborhoods. Eligible members with diabetes
will also be encouraged to take part in WellPoint’s free
telephonic health-coaching program. In addition, WellPoint provides doctors and nurses cultural-competency
information via online and print resources, so they can
develop more effective ways of communicating with
patients about their healthcare needs.
“Health disparities are not caused by differences
in culture alone. Many factors, such as community resources, family structure and socioeconomic status, also
affect disparities,” says Health Services Director Grace
Ting. “We have to work closely with the healthcare
providers who have the trust of their patients and the
support of the community. This is one very important
way that we can help to close the disparity gap.
“To improve overall quality of care, it’s an imperative for health-industry leaders to address racial and
ethnic disparities,” Ting says. “The people we reach may
not be members today, but they may be tomorrow.”
WellPoint’s continued commitment to addressing health-equity issues has been recognized this year
by the Congressional Black Caucus and the National
Committee for Quality Assurance for several of its disparities programs.
“Diversity is not a
department or an event
at the Blue Cross and
Blue Shield Association.
It’s an integral part of
everything we do. It’s one
of the keys to our success.”
—Scott P. Serota,
President and CEO
38 percent are racially/ethnically diverse and 37
percent are age 50 and over.
“The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association
strongly values and promotes diversity in our
workplace,” says President and CEO Scott P.
Serota. “We’re committed to providing a work
environment in which differences are respected,
employees are treated fairly and individual contributions are valued and rewarded.”
RECRUITING, RETAINING TOP TALENT
Since knowledgeable workers are a key asset—
especially in the healthcare industry—BCBSA has
focused its recruitment efforts on attracting more
mature employees. Thanks in part to referrals
from its employees as well as retirees and partnerships with temporary-staffing firms, roughly 20
percent of the organization’s new hires are over
the age of 55.
“BCBSA gets the expertise of people with
proven track records who know how to get
the work done, and the retiree earns additional
income and stays active,” explains Kitsos, age