Health Equity by Design

Listen to Darrell Gray II, MD, Chief Health Equity Officer, talk about how whole health is anchored in advancing health equity.

Defining Health Equity

Any effort to advance whole health begins with a commitment to advancing health equity. Our name, Elevance Health, was formed out of the concepts of "elevate" and "advance," signifying our vision to elevate the importance of whole health and advance health beyond healthcare. Critical to realizing this vision is the imperative to design for the outcomes we seek. Health equity, therefore, cuts across four strategic components: whole health, exceptional experiences, care provider enablement, and digital platforms.

Importantly, equity is distinct from equality. Equality, as a process, is a one-size-fits-all approach in which everyone receives the same resources with the hope that they will each achieve the same optimal outcome. In contrast, equity is a personalized approach, recognizing that needs vary based on demographic and health-related attributes.


Illustration of the difference between health equality and health equity showing four people with the exact same life vests, an analogy for a one-size-fits-all approach to healthcare.

One-size-fits-all approach


Illustration of the difference between health equality and health equity showing four people wearing individually fitted life vests, an analogy for a personalized approach to healthcare.

Personalized approach

Advancing health equity requires removing barriers from an upstream, midstream, and downstream perspective — and being intentional at each stage:


Improving laws and policies to address social and institutional inequalities, including addressing poverty, racism, discrimination, classism, ableism, and sexism


Addressing social needs and living conditions, such as housing and transportation, violence, good jobs and education, exposure to toxins, income inequality, digital divide, and food insecurity


Addressing health outcomes, such as poor nutrition, chronic and communicable diseases, toxic stress, infant mortality, mental health, life expectancy and substance use disorder

Health Equity by Design Podcast

Listen to Darrell Gray, II, MD, inaugural Chief Health Equity Officer for Elevance Health, talk more about how we can advance health equity together on the Reach Out and Read podcast.

Listen to Podcast

While we have comprehensive, long-term goals to advance health equity, in the near term, we have prioritized five areas to drive more immediate progress:

Health-Equity-by-Design Framework of consumer data, culture of health equity, access and affordability, care provider enhancements, and health outcome improvement.

Identify and scale best practices for health outcome improvement.

Enhance care provider capacity, incentives, and accountability to deliver on advancing health equity.

Expand and standardize the collection, analysis, and reporting of consumer data (preferences, demographics, and attributes).

Cultivate and sustain an enterprise culture of health equity.

Innovate to drive improved access and affordability.

Delivering on each of these commitments further accelerates our progress in addressing crises across our consumer population and nation, including, but not limited to, disparities in:

  • Maternal and infant health.
  • Behavioral health.
  • Chronic conditions.
  • Unmet social needs.
  • Access to evidence-based treatments.

We have identified these disparities as some of the most crucial to address because of their enormous impact on the people and communities where we live and work. For example, each year about 700 people in the U.S. die during pregnancy, with another 50,000 people experiencing severe complications during pregnancy.1 Black people are three times more likely to die than white people from a pregnancy-related cause,1 and more than 90% of pregnancy-related deaths among Indigenous people were preventable.2

Because of their dedication to advancing health equity, 21 of our affiliated Medicaid plans were the first in the nation to earn a full three-year accreditation for health equity from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).3

This accreditation confirms our commitment to addressing the whole-health needs of entire communities of people who have been historically marginalized, economically and socially.

Badge of accreditation for health equity from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA)‚Äč

To make a difference in maternal health and address the other disparities we know exist in our communities, we will continue to partner with care providers — as well as those outside of the industry — enabling them to better deliver on advancing health equity and whole health. We're focused on enhancing care provider capacity, incentives, and accountability by:

  • Embedding health equity in network measures.
  • Integrating health equity measures in value-based programs and reporting.
  • Enhancing transparency into the diversity of competencies, skills, and demographic background of care providers within our network.
  • Optimizing education and training, including continuing medical education (CME) that covers:
    • Health equity.
    • Cultural humility.
    • Implicit bias.

Using maternal health as an example, we are pursuing a suite of programs, all with the aim of improving outcomes for pregnant people and babies.

Empowering Care Providers

Care providers, whether they are in our networks or not, can also leverage our mydiversepatients.com site to access courses that offer CME credits. The site is a collaboration with Training Systems Design, LLC, to expand the way we think about healthcare and help close care gaps due to inequities.

To learn the latest on what Elevance Health is doing in partnership with care providers to advance health equity in our communities, visit our Stories page on our website and filter by topic #HealthEquity.

Forward Together

Our health-equity-by-design approach facilitates growth and realizes our role in a more equitable health and healthcare ecosystem. This approach will only succeed, however, with a strong, collaborative partnership between us and the care providers we work with. Together, we need to look beyond the traditional race-exclusive view of health equity to optimizing health at the individual level for all — regardless of age, geography, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability — by prioritizing efforts and investments that deliver on that outcome and elevating our consumers and communities that are socially and/or economically marginalized.

Elevance Health partners with national organizations to address health equity in communities nationwide. We strive to promote health where people live, learn, work, and play, including literacy, cancer screenings, behavioral health, recovery from substance use, and support for caregivers.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Working Together to Reduce Black Maternal Mortality (April 6, 2022): cdc.gov/healthequity/features/maternal-mortality/index.html. 2 Pregnancy-Related Deaths Among American Indian or Alaska Native Persons: Data from Maternal Mortality Review Committees in 36 US States, 2017-2019: Trost SL, Beauregard J, Njie F, et al. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Department of Health and Human Services; 2022. cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternal-mortality/docs/pdf/Pregnancy-Related-Deaths-AIAN-Data-MMRCs-2017-2019-H.pdf. 3 Elevance Health press release, Twenty-one Elevance Health Medicaid Plans Receive NCQA Health Equity Accreditation (November 28, 2022).