While only 20 percent of Americans with diabetes receive routinely recommended health care services, even fewer African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans receive appropriate care for the disease.

The National Health Plan Collaborative is a public-private partnership bringing together 11 health plans serving commercial, Medicare, and Medicaid patients nationwide, which are committed to reducing racial and ethnic disparities and improving quality of care. Together, the 11 plans – Aetna, BMC HealthNet Plan, CIGNA, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, HealthPartners, Highmark Inc., Humana, Kaiser Permanente, Molina Healthcare, UnitedHealth Group and WellPoint, Inc. – reach the lives of more than 76 million Americans.

Established in December 2004, the first phase of this groundbreaking initiative aimed to test provider, member, and community targeted approaches to reduce gaps in care and improve the quality of care that patients with chronic illnesses receive. In the second phase, which began in October 2006, the health plans worked together to:

  • Encourage continued collection of primary patient race and ethnicity data and develop standards for collecting such data;
  • Enhance the provision of language services for patients with limited English proficiency;
  • Develop an industry-wide business case for health plans to address racial and ethnic disparities, as well as models for individual plans to make the internal business case; and
  • Continue to build greater awareness about the Collaborative’s work within member health plans and with external audiences.

The Collaborative was organized and managed by the Center for Health Care Strategies, with consultative assistance from RAND Corporation and funding support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In 2008, America’s Health Insurance Plans assumed coordination of National Health Plan Collaborative activities.