Linda Jimenez

Linda Jimenez

Title: Chief Diversity Officer & Staff VP – Diversity & Inclusion
Company: WellPoint Inc.
Corporate Headquarters: Indianapolis, Indiana
Primary Business: Health Benefits
Revenues: $58.8 billion
Employees: Approx 38,000

Vision of the Future

I often tell my colleagues that as diversity practitioners we are standing on the precipice, leading our respective organizations through profound change. Everywhere we turn there are great unknowns: political, economic, regulatory and stakeholder uncertainty. But it is also a time of opportunity as we have the chance to shape the future of diversity and inclusion for millions of Americans.

WellPoint recognizes the need to go in the direction that improves the quality and cost of health care for the greatest number of Americans. The health care industry is going to see a huge influx of newly insured non-English speaking patients once the health care reform law takes full effect in 2014. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about one out of four jobs created in the United States through 2018 is expected to be in the health care industry. A recent article in the Washington Post noted that demand for such positions as registered nurses is anticipated to grow by some 23 percent, or 581,000 new jobs, through 2016, with an additional 276,000 openings expected for nursing aides, orderlies and related positions.

We Must work to address an imbalance in American medicine that has been growing for a quarter century.

Much of this change can be attributed to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed last March. Analysts predict that one of the most significant changes from health care reform will be an increase of some 44 million newly insured Americans, more than half of them from immigrant communities where English is not the primary language.

A study by the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine reported that racial and ethnic minorities receive lower-quality health care than Caucasians even when insurance status, income, age and severity of conditions are comparable. Culture and language can affect the way that patients view illness and disease, as well as their attitudes toward health care providers. We must work to address an imbalance in American medicine that has been growing for a quarter century.

Health care reform has brought to light a rare convergence of forces: a growing population; the aging of the health-conscious baby boomer generation; the impending retirement of as many as a third of current doctors; and the expectation that changes in health care policy will eventually bring a tide of newly insured patients into the American health care system. Thus, the vision for diversity and inclusion within the health care industry will be focused on enhancing cross-cultural competency in language, customs, and religion to create and shape the best health, care, and value for our members.