New coverage for doula services
For all fully insured commercial products, BCBSRI’s doula program took effect on January 1, 2022. Coverage is also available to self-funded plans upon renewal beginning in January 2022.
Services rendered by a trained and certified doula are covered as follows for each pregnancy:
- Prenatal visits – up to 3 visits
- Labor and delivery – 1 encounter
- Postnatal visits (up to the first 12 months postpartum) – up to 3 visits
This coverage applies to fully insured plans provided through an employer or purchased directly from BCBSRI or through HealthSource RI. As noted, self-funded clients may elect to include this coverage as well.
Reducing racial disparities in maternal healthcare
Doulas provide emotional and physical support before and during pregnancy and after delivery. They are not medical professionals and do not provide medical care; however, studies have shown that doulas can provide the kind of continuous support that may improve birth outcomes for women and infants.
With a doula’s support, women were less likely to have pain relief medications administered and less likely to have a cesarean birth. Women also reported having a more positive childbirth experience.
Doulas can also teach women how to communicate effectively with their healthcare providers and advocate for their needs, an area of concern particularly among women of color. Research conducted by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) found that:
- Black and Hispanic women reported feeling less confident they would receive the care they need, as compared to white women.
- Fewer Black mothers reported feeling they can speak openly with their provider or felt that their provider spent enough time with them.
While there is much work to be done to reduce racial disparities in maternal healthcare, increasing access to doulas for all Rhode Island women represents an important step forward.
To learn more about coverage for doula services, contact your BCBSRI sales representative.