Getting Real about REL data

pregnant woman at doctor's officeSharing certain information about yourself can help the healthcare industry to better understand and serve patients.

Racial and ethnic minority groups throughout the United States experience higher rates of illness and death across a wide range of health conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, obesity, asthma and heart disease, compared to their White counterparts.

Within the same hospitals, Black and Latinx/Hispanic patients are more likely than White patients to experience severe complications related to birth, regardless of insurance status.

Black adults die from treatable conditions at twice the rate of White adults.

The life expectancy of non-Hispanic/Black Americans is four years lower than that of White Americans.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its disproportionate impact among racial and ethnic minority populations is another example of these health disparities. Health disparities are preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury or opportunities to achieve optimal health.

Advancing Health Equity

Aligned with BlueCross BlueShield Association's (BCBSA) National Health Equity Strategy, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) is committed to ensuring that everyone—regardless of race, ethnicity, income, disability, sexual orientation or any other factor—has the opportunity to live their healthiest life. Our health equity strategy intends to change the trajectory of health disparities and create a more equitable healthcare system. To understand where disparities exist, we must be able to group data and health outcomes by race.

REL Data

Race, Ethnicity and Language (REL) data is demographic information used to understand unique health risks and healthcare needs. It is used to improve quality in healthcare settings. Race and ethnicity are reflections of identity and social experiences, not biological facts. REL data provides necessary insight into how these social experiences affect health outcomes.

Compared to their White counterparts, African Americans, Latinx and other racial minorities disproportionately suffer from maternal morbidity, diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, behavioral health, COVID-19 and other conditions. Without REL data, we can't understand the immensity of the problem, nor can we identify solutions to the healthcare disparities we face.

CareFirst uses REL data to:

Proactively identify high-risk members

Develop personal interventions

Identify how services can be modified or developed to address health needs

Improve member health outcomes

Reduce healthcare costs

CareFirst does NOT use REL data in any way that further enables or magnifies health inequities and disparities. We do NOT use data to discriminate or to determine benefit design, service authorization, premiums or cost-sharing. And CareFirst does NOT use REL data for financial gain.

Your Data Remains Private & Protected

REL Data collection aims to identify macro-level trends in health disparities by race, ethnicity and language. Individuals' healthcare data will remain private, protected and confidential. CareFirst is committed to following all applicable laws in its non-discriminatory use of REL data.

REL data is recognized and protected as Protected Health Information (PHI) under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). State and federal laws and court interpretations of the laws governing privacy and the use of PHI and personally identifiable information (PII) continue to evolve.

How Can You Help?

Self-reported data is considered the most accurate way to collect REL data. Please stay tuned for more information on how you can partner with CareFirst to improve our healthcare system and self-report your REL data.

Related Materials

Seize the Data, Spot the Disparities

BCBSA National Health Equity Strategy

Working to Promote Health Equity

Advancing Health Equity: Making Meaningful Change

What is Health Equity, and Why Does it Matter?