Health Equity Accreditation Plus Pilot

Health Equity Accreditation Plus Pilot

Health Equity Accreditation
Plus Pilot

Applications Open September 1–15

Thank you for accepting our invitation to learn more about the Health Equity Accreditation Plus pilot!

We believe:

  • Quality care is equitable care.
  • Health inequities and disparities are long-standing, deep-rooted problems in America.
  • No one organization can tackle health equity alone.

For over a decade, NCQA’s Multicultural Health Care (MHC) Distinction has given organizations the tools to identify and address health care disparities for the populations they serve. NCQA is now expanding MHC Distinction by adding new requirements and renaming the program Health Equity Accreditation to better reflect the role of these activities as the foundation for improving health equity. Standards will be available to all customers in September 2021.

NCQA is in the process of developing a new program—Health Equity Accreditation Plus—that builds on Health Equity Accreditation standards by focusing on the importance of the community, cross-sector partnerships and social drivers of health. Health Equity Accreditation Plus is for health care organizations that are progressing to the next step of their journey to health equity and is aspirational for organizations that are taking the first step. The program will be released in March 2022 and surveys will begin in July 2022.

NCQA will conduct a pilot to inform the development of the Health Equity Accreditation Plus program. To volunteer for to be a participant in the pilot for Health Equity Accreditation Plus, please use the form on the right side of this page.

If you have any questions, refer to the FAQs below or contact us at

Thank you!

The NCQA Team

Sign up for you chance to be part of the Health Equity Accreditation Plus Pilot

Health Equity Accreditation Plus Pilot

Organization Demographics

Learn More About The Health Equity Accreditation Plus Pilot

Which types of organizations are eligible to participate in the pilot?

Health Equity Accreditation Plus is available to many organizations working to reducing health care disparities, including health plans, health systems, hospitals, managed behavioral healthcare organizations, population health or wellness organizations, and more.

Which areas will be evaluated during the pilot?

Below is a summary of the concepts NCQA is working to develop for HEA Plus. Pilot participants will be able to preview and provide feedback during the development process.

Programs to Address Social Needs. Organization deploys interventions or programs based on the population needs of the community. Interventions should include support from the community and have clear goals or targets and a plan for measuring the impact of interventions and programs.

Community Health Assessments. Organization assesses community-level data to understand the population characteristics and prevalent social and economic risk factors that influence health outcomes. Community data assessments should guide organizations in determining what population segments to assess and where interventions will have the greatest impact.

Cross-Sector Partnerships with Community-Based Organizations and Practitioners or Providers. Organization participates in authentic partnerships with shared benefits and equitable workloads and considers power dynamics of entities in the community systems.
Multidisciplinary partnerships — including between health care organizations and CBOs, practices or government agencies — can meet the needs of the community better than when organizations work independently.

Data Collection & Interoperability. Organization develops or leverages screening assessments to inform decisions about where to target resources and how to tailor interventions. Screening assessments should be meaningful, actionable, and interoperable so that information can be shared seamlessly with partner organizations and integrated across systems. Organization also uses standardized codes for social needs and risks data to facilitate an interoperable health data ecosystem.

Equitable Evaluation of Technology. Organization develops a process for evaluating and mitigating potential bias across algorithms used to guide health care decisions. Developing best practices for assessing bias is ongoing, but for now, NCQA signals the importance of mitigating the effects of inadvertent bias.

Conducting Individual Assessments. At least annually, organization conducts individual-level social risk assessments for identified patient populations and leverages individual-level data for whole-person care. Individual-level assessments allow organizations to coordinate physical, behavioral and social services to promote better health outcomes and more effective use of resources.

Referrals, Outcomes & Impact. Organization connects patients or members to community resources or organizations that can best meet their identified needs. Organization tracks referrals and outcomes and evaluates the impact of interventions, programs and partnerships on the patient population.

What is the pilot participant’s commitment?

  • Sign a legal agreement,
  • Share testimony and be a marketing partner with NCQA.
  • Help estimate value of Health Equity Accreditation Plus and return on investment.
  • Follow an agreed-on timeline.
  • Pay for the survey tool and survey fees.

What is NCQA’s commitment?

  • Communicate clear expectations and the timeline.
  • Offer a single point of contact for all pilot-related inquiries.
  • Issue Health Equity Accreditation Plus status to pilot participants that satisfy requirements.
  • Promote pilot participants as partners/early adopters.
  • Include organizations in NCQA’s marketing promotion for Health Equity Accreditation Plus, featuring their participation in the pilot and their success stories.

Why participate in the pilot?

Surveys for Health Equity Accreditation and Health Equity Accreditation Plus will not begin for most organizations until July 1, 2022. Pilot participants that meet the final standards will be eligible to receive their status and seals in both programs at least 6 months prior to other organizations being able to earn an HEA Plus status. Earning HEA Plus will help demonstrate to their members and to the communities they serve that they are leaders and innovators in addressing health equity and social drivers of health.

What does it cost to participate in the pilot?

  • Survey tool purchase:
    • Single user $1,100
    • 2–4 users $3,080
    • 5–10 users $7,150
    • 11–20 users $13,200


  • Health Equity Accreditation Plus Survey: $4,000 base per legal entity and 0.02¢ per member.
    • $4,000 due at time of pilot selection.
    • Per member fee due at start of survey in April 2022.


  • Health Equity Accreditation Survey (full set of requirements for organizations that have not already achieved MHC Distinction): $6,000 base per eligible entity and 0.03¢ per member.
    • $6,000 (nonrefundable) due at time of pilot selection.
    • Per member fee due at start of survey in April 2022.
  • Health Equity Accreditation Transition Survey (only new requirements for organizations with a current MHC Distinction status): $7,615 (no per member fee)
    • $7,615 due at time of pilot selection.

Projected Timeline (subject to change)

September 2021: NCQA notifies organizations that were selected to participate in the pilot; participants sign legal agreement, complete application, submit payment.

October 2021: Standards go out for public comment; Participants begin developing evidence to meet the requirements.

December 2021–January 2022: NCQA staff conduct live review (via shared screen) of prepared materials.
Note: Review does not grant status; its purpose is to gather enhanced feedback on the standards.

December 2021–February 2022: NCQA staff finalize standards with feedback from pilot, public comment, advisory committee.

February–March 2022: NCQA sends final standards to participants so they can adjust evidence.

March 2022: Participants purchase the survey tool.

April 2022: Participants submit evidence in IRT; NCQA staff follows its normal survey process in IRT.

May 2022: The Review Oversight Committee performs the final review and issues a status.

Before July 1, 2022: Participants receive their status and participate in marketing with NCQA.

How many entities can we bring to the pilot?

Each participating organization may bring one Accreditable entity. The pilot is intended to be a small, focused group, but NCQA encourages larger organizations to prepare all Accreditable entities to come through Health Equity Accreditation and Health Equity Accreditation Plus Surveys beginning in July 2022.

What will be reviewed?

  • Transition standards (Health Equity Accreditation standards that differ from MHC).
  • Health Equity Accreditation Plus Standards (refer to the section above for a description of the Health Equity Accreditation standard concepts).