Independence Blue Cross (Independence) is addressing racial disparities in maternal health by collaborating with Cocolife.black and Cayaba Care – two Philadelphia-based, minority-led maternal health companies.
The United States continues to see a rise in maternal deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about 700 people in the United States die during pregnancy or one year after, with the rate among Black women being three times the rate for white women.
“We are proud to work with two local organizations that share our commitment to maternal health equity and that want to help us ensure our members receive high-quality care during pregnancy, childbirth, and after delivery. Independence is working on a number of projects to address racial disparities in health care. We believe that is best achieved through partnership and collaboration with local organizations, like these, that have close ties to the communities we serve,” said Seun O. Ross, Ph.D., executive director of Health Equity at Independence Blue Cross.
Cocolife.black is a community resource available to the public and is designed to support Black and Brown moms during pregnancy, postpartum, and loss of a child or significant loved one. It provides easy access to education and community resources such as free diapers, formula, and childcare services.
“People who are preparing to become a mom, those who recently became a mom, or those who lost a child really benefit from feeling a sense of community,” said Dr. Ross. “And that’s what Cocolife.black offers. They help connect you with people who understand what you’re going through and offer resources that can help you along the way.”
Cayaba Care is a venture-backed startup that provides pregnant and recently pregnant people with in-office, in-home, and virtual services that are personalized based on their needs. The company provides wraparound services that include emotional and mental support, help with hospital appointments, symptom management, benefit navigation, and more. Each person is matched with a Maternity Navigator from their neighborhood that is their main point of contact. They also have access to a Care Team that includes registered nurses, nurse practitioners, psychiatrists, social workers, lactation consultants, and registered dietician nutritionists.
“The great thing about Cayaba Care is that they assign program participants with a Maternity Navigator who can help guide their maternity and birth journey,” said Dr. Ross. “This can be a huge help to pregnant and recently pregnant people who are trying to juggle so many different responsibilities.”
Independence members who have commercial health plans and are pregnant or recently pregnant, may be eligible for Cayaba Care’s services. Cayaba Care uses a proprietary risk stratification algorithm to assess members’ social determinants of health and to determine whether they would benefit from the company’s services. They also work directly with obstetricians and with Independence to provide an extra layer of support for members.
The work with these organizations aligns with Independence’s support of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association strategy announced in April 2020 with a national goal of reducing racial disparities in maternal health by 50 percent in the next five years. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans. The work also supports the Accelerate Health Equity collaboration that Independence is part of, which brings together organizations across the Philadelphia region to combat systemic racism and barriers in health care.