The United States is in the midst of a maternal health crisis and new data from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association shows that women of color continue to face a greater risk of childbirth complications compared to white women. Kim A. Keck, President, and CEO, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association writes about BCBS role in transforming the conditions of mothers during this crisis. Here are the excerpts.
- Condition of color moms in the USA: If the fact that the United States has the highest maternal and infant mortality rates among comparable developed countries are not bad enough, the survival rates for African American mothers and their infants are even more dismal. African American women across the income spectrum and from all walks of life is dying from preventable pregnancy-related complications at three to four times the rate of non-Hispanic white women, while the death rate for black infants is twice that of infants born to non-Hispanic white mothers.
- The disparity in the health of moms: Maternal mortality affects U.S. women from all backgrounds; if a woman is able to become pregnant, she risks experiencing complications such as preterm labor, infections, gestational diabetes, and even death due to her pregnancy. Among women who survive pregnancy and childbirth, 50,000 women each year experience life-threatening pregnancy-related complications4, also known as severe maternal morbidity (SMM).
- BCBS plays in: As these disparities in maternal health care stem from a complex fabric of social, racial, and economic issues, the time is now to confront and change the trajectory for mothers across the country. Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) companies announced a new National Health Equity Strategy, a multi-year effort laser-focused on key health issues that disproportionately affect people of color. And as a first step, the Blues have committed to reducing racial disparities in maternal health by 50% in the next five years.
- Momnibus package: Black Maternal Health Caucus’ Momnibus package will help save the lives of new and expecting moms. The Momnibus includes investments in community-based organizations, data collection improvements, and programs to address social determinates of health like housing, nutrition, and environmental risks.
- BCBS on its way to improvise: From using technology to identify and support high-risk pregnancies, to increasing support for doula coverage, incentivizing OB/GYN doctors to train in managing chronic conditions and implementing culturally appropriate interventions for mothers and newborns, BCBS companies are leaning into their deep roots in local communities to support at-risk women and women of color.