Aetna Recognized by National Committee for Quality Assurance for Program to Reduce...

Aetna Recognized by National Committee for Quality Assurance for Program to Reduce Health Care Disparities

Initiative aims to increase the number of Latina and African American women who receive yearly mammogram screenings


Hartford, CT–(HISPANIC PR WIRE – BUSINESS WIRE)–November 20, 2007–Aetna (NYSE: AET) has been awarded the prestigious “Recognizing Innovation in Multicultural Health Care Award” by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) for its efforts to reach across cultural divides and provide health plan members in need of mammograms with culturally and linguistically appropriate health care services.

“Aetna has created an innovative program that health plans nationwide should use as a model for bridging language and cultural gaps that so easily get in the way of quality health care,” said Margaret E. O’Kane, president of NCQA. “Creating a patient-centered, multicultural health care system must be among the highest priorities of providers and health plans alike.”

Aetna’s breast health initiative uses voluntary self-reported data on race and ethnicity combined with claims data to identify Latina and African American women who have not had their annual screening mammogram. Aetna reaches out to these members either with targeted telephone calls by a bilingual nurse case manager or educational mailings in English and Spanish. Aetna’s outreach stresses the importance of mammography screening, discusses the risk of breast cancer to Latina and African American women, and offers suggestions on how to find a mammography center.

“Latina and African American women who get breast cancer are more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage of the disease than white women leading to higher mortality rates,” said James Cross, M.D., Head of Medical Policy and Program Administration at Aetna. “If we are to provide all our members with access to high quality care, it is incumbent upon us to understand the barriers that result in disparities and move aggressively to close the existing gaps. This program is a concrete example of the value of collecting self-reported member data, and using race and ethnicity information to create a culturally sensitive program targeted to a specific population in order to improve care.”

According to the landmark 2002 Institute of Medicine study, “Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care,” minorities in the U.S. tend to get lower quality health care than whites, even when such factors as medical conditions, insurance and economic status are equivalent.

Dr. Cross accepted the award in Washington, D.C. on November 13 during the second annual, “Breakthroughs in Reducing Health Care Disparities.” The award arose from projects conducted by NCQA — with major funding from The California Endowment and support from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services — to investigate the feasibility for health plans to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate care and to monitor health care disparities using clinical quality data.

For information about the other health plans recognized in 2007 by NCQA, as well the conferences on multicultural health care, visit

Aetna is one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving approximately 36.4 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities and health care management services for Medicaid plans. Our customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, government-sponsored plans and expatriates.

NCQA is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. NCQA accredits and certifies a wide range of health care organizations and recognizes physicians in key clinical areas. NCQA’s Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) is the most widely used performance measurement tool in health care. NCQA is committed to providing health care quality information through the Web, media and data licensing agreements in order to help consumers, employers and others make more informed health care choices. For more information, visit

The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation, was established in 1996 to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians. For more information, visit

Aetna Recognized by National Committee for Quality Assurance for Program to Reduce Health Care Disparities