BCBS: Racial disparities in maternal health complications have increased during the pandemic

BCBS: Racial disparities in maternal health complications have increased during the pandemic

Photo: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images

The Blue Cross Blue Shield released data showing evidence that women of color are at greater risk of pregnancy-related complications, regardless of whether they have commercial health insurance or Medicaid.

Instead, the numbers suggest that the disparities in maternal health in the United States are likely the result of broader health system and societal challenges, including underlying chronic conditions, racial inequality, and potential biases within the health care system itself.

Pregnancy-related complications have worsened 9% since 2018, with a marked increase during the COVID-19 pandemic, with some women of color having an almost 70% risk of pregnancy-related complications compared to white women.

the study, Racial and racial disparities in maternal healthexamined the rate of obstetric complications in nearly 11 million births in the United States to women with commercial insurance or Medicaid as measured by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Severe Maternal Morbidity Scale (SMM).

What is the effect

The analysis found that black, Hispanic, and Asian women had higher rates of SMM than white women, regardless of age or type of health insurance. Pre-existing health conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or asthma at birth, are closely associated with higher SMM and worse pregnancy complications, increasing the likelihood of a risky or challenging postpartum delivery.

While women aged 35-44 have been identified as the most likely to have an SMM event in all population groups, black women in this age group have a 66% higher rate of SMM and are more likely to experience pregnancy-related complications than women Eggs, according to the data showed.

Dr. Adam Myers, senior vice president and chief clinical transformation officer at BCBSA, said the disparities are largely the result of implicit bias and systemic racism in health care β€” deep-rooted issues that need to be addressed.

β€œTo achieve better outcomes, we need to ensure that preconception care is accessible and equitable for all women, as well as robust prenatal care, and ongoing postpartum care to ensure the safety of future pregnancies,” Myers said.

BCBSA is trying to take steps in this regard, launching National strategy for health equity last year. The strategy lays out a plan to reduce racial disparities in maternal health by 50% over five years.

Among the components of this strategy are: working with lawmakers to strengthen and expand policies that make care more equitable; creating incentives and training for providers to provide sensitive care and remove unconscious bias; Addressing social drivers of health, focusing on root causes; Collaborate with industry partners to standardize data collection and analysis to better understand care gaps and create interventions that address them.

BCBSA has also developed a list of 10 Actions Organizations Can Take To improve maternal health and make a tangible difference in health inequalities.

Big trend

The federal government is also making a push to address racial and ethnic disparities. In late August, the Department of Health and Human Services, through the Department of Health Resources and Services, announced investments of more than $20 million to reduce disparities in maternal and childbirth outcomes.

The funding will help expand and diversify the workforce that cares for pregnant and postpartum women, increase access to obstetric care in rural communities and support states in addressing inequalities in maternal and child health.

Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause in this country than white women, according to HRSA Director Carol Johnson.

These investments are part of the implementation of the White House Scheme Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis was released in June.

In November 2021, HHS announced that more than 200 hospitals had signed on to a new program, the Collaborative Perinatal Improvement Program, a contract with Premier. The program assesses how pregnancy affects the general health of the population by linking inpatient data of newborns to their mothers.

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Send an email to the author: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com


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