At Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) we call these "drivers of health". And we are intentional to address them in communities affected by long-term prejudice and discrimination.
We can take the socio-economic status as an example.
In the United States 39% of African American children live in povertyThis means that black children are more than twice as likely as white children to live below the poverty line.7 And according to the American Psychological Society, that causes those kids to end up in poorer health in the long run, through no fault of their own.
What's racism got to do with it?
If we take this example one step further, we can look at what causes poverty. The United Nations counts racism and discrimination are among the leading causes of poverty worldwide
We often see this coming back, for example during the hiring process. A study by an economist and behavioral scientist found that resumes with white-sounding names got 50% more callbacks than those with black-sounding names.8
“All other things being equal, race is still an important factor in the US job market,” the authors note. "The race of a black applicant certainly has an average negative effect on their job prospects."
Systemic racism and other forms of discrimination cause these negative effects. And implicit bias, or attitudes that we have towards groups of people without consciously realizing it, is not only present in the hiring process. It also appears in healthcare settings.
Bias in Medicine
We all have a bias. It can come from our upbringing, schooling, culture, movies, or literature – including medical textbooks.
Have you ever been told that black people have thicker skin than whites? Or that black people have less sensitive nerve endings than white people? None of these statements are true. But many people, including medical students and residents, still believe them9
Studies show that many doctors have a clear preference for white and unconsciously associate black patients with being less likely to participate in medical procedures. As a result, black patients often receive different treatment than white patients:10
- They may receive lower quality care
- Their doctors may not communicate with them as often or clearly as they do with white patients
- Their doctors may be less friendly to them
- They may receive less pain medication than white patients in the emergency room
- They may be offered treatment options other than white patients
The good news is that most doctors and nurses want to provide the best care for all patients. And we can all challenge our implicit biases.
What can we do about it?
As part of our efforts to combat bias in healthcare, we invested in implicit bias training until March of Dimes. The organization has offered training to medical professionals across the state to help them understand how to recognize and remedy implicit biases in maternity care settings.
At Blue Cross NC, we also need to understand our own implicit biases. That's why we provide implicit bias training and other learning opportunities for our employees. We encourage everyone to use the 21-Day Racial Justice Challenge
And training is just the beginning. Racism works on many levels, from person to person within our institutions. That is why we are also building on our strong diversity culture and switching to value-based care. Our goal is to create fair opportunities and inclusive spaces so that everyone has good health and well-being.
As a non-profit health insurance company, we know that no community can be truly healthy until racism no longer existsHealth inequality affects all North Carolina people. In fact, data shows that our state's health system is ranked 36th out of 50 states. We were also ranked 46 out of 50 for differences.11
By tackling these inequalities and inequalities, healthcare will become better and cheaper for everyone. We are committed to supporting communities across the stateWe partner with our suppliers, members and communities to transform healthcare value-based careWe will not stop until health care is better for everyone.
Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) and the strength of our communities are at the heart of everything we do. To learn more about our commitment to DEI, visit our website