Few States Collect Data Needed to Improve Health Equity
The pandemic highlighted how inequities in health care put certain populations at greater risk of infection and other negative health outcomes. But measuring the extent of the problem has been challenging because of gaps and inconsistencies in the way states identify the race, ethnicity, and language spoken at home (REL) of their Medicaid beneficiaries. A new NORC study reveals that, from 2017–2019, only 14 states gathered sufficient REL information on Medicaid beneficiaries. Other states gathered little or no REL information.
“You cannot know the extent of a problem until you measure it. That’s why consistent, high-quality REL data collection is critical to understanding the health equity gaps in Medicaid and reducing disparities in access to care and health care outcomes.”
In addition to examining the processes used to obtain data, and efforts to improve them, NORC researchers identified which states collected Medicaid beneficiaries’ race and ethnicity data most consistently and delved deeper into the processes California, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Washington use. The researchers found that the most successful states collected comprehensive REL data at the time of enrollment and explained to beneficiaries that their self-reported data would help advance health equity.
This article is from our corporate newsletter, NORC Now. NORC Now keeps you informed of the full breadth of NORC’s work, the questions we help our clients answer, and the issues we help them address.