Apr 1, 2024

Maternal Health Matters

As many of you know, my medical background is as an OB/GYN, so championing maternal health is something that is especially important to me. It’s also one of the reasons I chose to come to Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) last year. BCBSRI places such a high priority on addressing maternal health equity and racial disparities in our healthcare system, and I’ve been blown away at the number of programs and initiatives we’ve put in place to work toward that goal.

I’m honored to lead so much of the maternal health equity work our teams at BCBSRI are so focused on, and as we celebrate Black Maternal Health Week from April 11-17 it’s an important time to pause to raise awareness and create action to address the health disparities faced by Black mothers and babies. I’m proud to share a high-level overview of just some of the work we’re undertaking and recent updates in this space. 

In January 2022, BCBSRI began providing coverage for services provided by doulas, months before the state of Rhode Island passed legislation requiring reimbursement for these services. Doulas provide continuous physical, emotional, and educational support before, during, and after pregnancy and childbirth. They are critical to improving health outcomes for women of color, and that legislation and the coverage we provide increases the likelihood of having a positive childbirth experience with a reduced risk of complications.

To further support our ongoing health equity efforts and ensure our members have access to these critical services, we’ve recently increased the annual reimbursement for services from in-network doulas – including labor, delivery, as well as prenatal and postnatal visits – from $1,500 to $2,400. This coverage is available to members in all fully insured plans, whether provided through an employer, purchased directly from BCBSRI, or purchased through HealthSource RI. Learn more about coverage details here.

And to support growth of the number of doulas participating in our network, as well as the increased need for doulas in Rhode Island, we’ve also just announced a new partnership with Doulas of Rhode Island (DoRI) to expand a scholarship program focused on supporting and improving diversity in the state’s doula community. DoRI is a professional organization for doulas with its mission to educate communities about doulas’ role and improving access to doula services for families in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

Under this partnership, BCBSRI is providing additional funding to DoRI to allow them to offer seven scholarships in 2024, the most in their 13-year history. That includes three $1,000 scholarships for aspiring doulas of color to help pay for training, one $500 scholarship to support current DoRI members interested in training as a certified lactation counselor, and three $500 scholarships for current DoRI members to apply toward the cost of additional birth worker training and continuing education of their choice. Applications for 2024 scholarships are open until April 15. Learn more about this program here, including application links.

Virtual access to doulas will be just one part of a new offering called Maven that we’re going to soon make available to select accounts, most likely around the June timeframe. Maven will cover a full spectrum of women’s healthcare and family planning needs, addressing clinical, emotional, and financial needs. It will give enrolled members access to a variety of services, resources, and solutions around fertility and family building, maternity and newborn care, parenting and pediatrics, and menopause and ongoing care. It will provide a member-centric experience that promotes better health outcomes.

Mark your calendar

I wanted to also give a quick plug for a special event BCBSRI is sponsoring on Friday, April 26. It’s the Bryant University Healthcare Summit and the topic of this year’s event is “RI’s Youth Behavioral Health Crisis: Paths to Resolution.” The event will feature a wide-ranging panel including national and local healthcare industry experts. Attendees can join the conversation on innovative solutions to increase access, ensure quality of care, and expand the professional workforce. Space is limited so if you’re interested in attending, please register today.

As always, thank you for your partnership and all you do to help our members stay safe and healthy.