New York regulators are trying to get a better idea of how insurance companies are trying to reduce health disparities, especially in communities of color. 

The Department of Financial Services on Wednesday released a mandatory information request for insurance companies to show the work they've done on race, ethnicity and language data collection efforts as well as programs for health equity. 

“We must take every action we can to address the systemic health inequities in our society that have disproportionately impacted communities of color for far too long,” said Superintendent Adrienne Harris. “The insurance industry has the power and the responsibility to contribute to greater health equity. This RFI will allow DFS to establish a foundation from which to build thoughtful, data-driven policies moving forward and evaluate the full impact of existing programming across the entire industry to ensure better outcomes for all New Yorkers.”   

Harris pointed to studies that have shown a variety of measurements for health care quality such as access to providers, coverage from insurance, language barriers and satisfaction with care can have disproportionate outcomes based on race. 

The COVID-19 pandemic showed Black and Latino Americans were more likely to be hospitalized and die compared to white people — an inequity that was also seen in New York despite early efforts to counteract it. 

Health insurance companies have started programs that were meant to address the disparities. The request Harris is seeking is meant to review these programs and best practices as well as determine whether any further steps need to be taken in the insurance industry.