Bridging the gap in maternal health: Regence takes action for Black moms

By Regence
April 11, 2024
BMHW 2022

Black Maternal Health Week (April 11-17) raises awareness about specific health challenges and the importance of addressing disparities in care.

If you're expecting a new addition to your family or just welcomed one, you know how important it is to be on top of your health. But not everyone has equal access to quality care. According to the Commonwealth Fund, the U.S. has some of the worst maternal and infant health outcomes among high-income countries, and people of color are disproportionally affected. That's why we’re committed to addressing maternal health disparities so everyone has the same opportunity to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

In 2022, Regence launched a formal strategy in support of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association’s goal to reduce racial disparities in maternal health by 50% over five years. Disparities can be attributed to a number of factors including housing, environmental conditions, economic opportunity, structural racism and access to health care. It’s a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach to solve.

Managing risks during pregnancy

Research shows that Black women experience serious complications at consistently higher rates than white women, regardless of age or income. To help lower these risks, we are enhancing the Regence Pregnancy program to build in more equity-centered support and resources for members during and after their pregnancy. This includes:
  • Screening members for social risk and connecting them to necessary resources 
  • Factoring in social risk scores in identifying high-risk pregnancies
  • Reaching out to members with high-risk pregnancies to offer care management
  • Training our care managers to help members navigate concerns around maternal health inequities and discrimination
  • Educational resources for members on maternal health, disparities, warning signs of complications and more.
This program fosters a close partnership between care managers and members to integrate whole-person health.

Addressing postpartum care needs

Quality care is just as critical postpartum, also known as the “fourth trimester.” Severe complications can happen during this time, with nearly one-third of maternal deaths occurring one week to one year after childbirth. For many new mothers, this period is a fragile balance of physical and mental recovery from giving birth, while adjusting to parenthood and navigating new dynamics with their baby – such as lactation and sleep.
An analysis of our claims data found that postpartum doctor visit rates are low, especially for Black and Hispanic/Latinx members. We’re working to increase postpartum visit rates while evaluating ways to improve postpartum care quality so members receive the support they need when they need it most.

Helping members have the healthiest pregnancy possible

If you are a pregnant Regence member, you have access to convenient, digital tools to support your maternity journey. Our Regence Pregnancy Program provides personalized support from nurse care managers and includes an app with educational resources on pregnancy and the baby’s first two years of life. We have also partnered with Charlie Health to offer virtual maternal mental health services to our members. More information about our maternity benefits, are available here: