3 ways employers can improve health equity

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Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals, health systems and other employers across the U.S. have increased their focus on addressing disparities among Americans, including healthcare access and health outcomes. A new report, published by McKinsey & Co. on Dec. 3, details how employers can boost health equity in the workplace and help employees access needed healthcare and other benefits.

The report examines data from a June 2021 survey of 2,905 full-time employees at large companies (500+ employees) between ages 18 and 84 across multiple industries.

The survey findings indicate that employees face healthcare disparities regardless of salary, said McKinsey & Co. For example, the survey found that 69 percent of employees of color earning up to $100,000 in household income experienced two or more unmet basic needs — such as social support, economic stability, transportation — over the past 12 months. This compares to 49 percent of white employees in the same income bracket who responded similarly.

The survey also found that more than 30 percent of Black, Hispanic/Latino, LGBTQ+ and younger employees reported having considered switching employers because of their health benefits. Additionally, employees of color were more likely than their white counterparts to find the resources and tools explaining benefits unhelpful, regardless of income, according to the survey.

To improve health equity in the workplace, McKinsey & Co. recommended that employers understand the unmet basic needs (e.g., food, transportation) among employees and expand the range of benefits offered to help employees meet them.

The company also recommended that employers provide internal education around benefits offered, as well as more flexible working arrangements to destigmatize receiving care and improve employees' care access.

Read the full report here.

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