Healthcare insurance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) wants to reduce the racial disparities in maternal health by 50% in five years, and curb disease and death among mothers of color.
Blue Cross Blue Shield is one of the nation’s largest healthcare insurance providers. The five-year goal is part of BCBS’s Naitonal Health Equity Strategy.
Black, American Indian and Alaska Native women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes, compared to white women, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
BCBSA’s National Health Equity Strategy is a more expansive effort to combat and reduce racial health disparities and create a more equitable health care system. The multi-year initiative will tackle four areas that disproportionately affect communities of color—maternal health, behavioral health, Diabetes and cardiovascular health. Maternal health is the first area BCBS will address.
The overall strategy aims to use data to determine the disparities, investigate programs that will curb racial disparities, partner with health care providers to improve health outcomes and address unconscious bias and influence policy decisions at the state and federal levels of government.
Congress is already working to address the dire Black maternal health crisis in the U.S. Earlier this year, members of Congress introduced the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021, a group of 12 bills created specifically to combat the disproportionate maternal deaths Black women and other women of color face.
To help with this new initiative, BCBSA has organized an advisory panel consisting of physicians, public health professionals and other leaders who will provide direction. Individuals from the American Diabetes Association, March of Dimes and YMCA of the USA are among the advisory panel members.
“Your health shouldn’t depend on the color of your skin or the neighborhood you live in,” Kim Keck, president and CEO of BCBSA, said in a statement. “The crisis in racial disparities in our country’s health care is unconscionable and unacceptable. While BCBS companies have made great strides in addressing racial health disparities in our local communities, there is so much more to be done.”