In November, Dr. Seun Ross, Independence Blue Cross (Independence) executive director of Health Equity, joined a virtual congressional briefing on maternal health. America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) hosted the briefing to discuss the essential role of health care coverage in improving maternal health outcomes.
Maternal health care continues to be a major challenge, particularly among women of color, who face higher rates of maternal death. The United States has the highest maternal death rates among all developed nations. In addition, Philadelphia’s maternal death rate is approximately 15 percent higher than the national average.
Dr. Ross shared Independence’s committed to ensuring that members receive high-quality care during pregnancy, childbirth, and after delivery. Independence is one of the Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) companies supporting the BCBS strategy to reduce racial disparities in maternal health by 50 percent in the next five years.
Independence’s maternal care programs are targeted to identify possible risks both during and after pregnancy. Data experts are also evaluating how social determinants of health affect high-risk maternity patients among different groups.
In 2020, Independence and AmeriHealth Caritas collaborated with Project HOME on Keystone Connection to Wellness which is using the nationally recognized Centering Pregnancy model for expectant mothers in North Philadelphia.
The Independence Blue Cross Foundation is also funding a research project investigating the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on preterm birth and prenatal care usage. The effect of the pandemic among communities of color is one key element of the project. The research is led by Yale University, University of Pennsylvania, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Nemours Children’s Hospital and Northwestern University. It will look at both spontaneous and medically indicated preterm births as well as stillbirth rates.