Maternal Health
Published June 16, 2021

The facts: Confronting a crisis of health inequities with a bold national strategy


The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is driving change in healthcare by launching a national health equity strategy. Through this multi-faceted initiative, Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies will collaborate with community partners and organizations to reduce racial health disparities, address systemic racism and ultimately improve the health of all Americans.

What are racial health inequities?

According to the CDC,health inequities are reflected in differences in length of life; quality of life; rates of disease, disability, and death; severity of disease; and access to treatment.

The COVID-19 health crisis continues to expose the racial inequities that have impacted generations of Americans. Researchers and public health advocates have known for decades that Americans from non-white, ethnic backgrounds experiencehigher rates of illness and death across a wide range of health conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, obesity, asthma, and heart disease, when compared to their white counterparts.The way to improve the lives of all Americans is to eliminate the barriers to good health which includes addressing systemic racism.

Some facts on racial health inequities in America

  • Black men are 70% more likely to die from a stroke  as compared to non-Hispanic white men.
  • Millennials from majority Black and Hispanic communities have lower diagnosis rates of major depression, 31% and 55% lower respectively when compared to white communities.
  • Black adults are 60% more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to be diagnosed with diabetes by a physician.
  • Black mothers have  3x higher maternal mortality and 2x higher morbidity  than white mothers

What is health equity?

Health equity is achieved when every person has the opportunity to “attain his or her full health potential” and no one is “disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of social position or other socially determined circumstances"Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A new strategy to achieve health equity

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) launched anational health equity strategy to address these types of inequities with a multi-faceted, long term approach. The multi-year strategy will focus on four conditions that disproportionately affect communities of color: maternal health, behavioral health, diabetes and cardiovascular conditions. As a first step, BCBSA announced it would set agoal of reducing racial health disparities in maternal health by 50 percent in five years.

Here's how BCBSA will support national health equity goals:

  • Improving data collection
  • Scaling effective programs
  • Addressing bias
  • Building partnerships
  • Influencing policy decisions
The crisis in racial disparities in our country’s health care is unconscionable and unacceptable. Our deep roots in the local communities we serve, combined with the scale and scope of our national reach, enable all of us at Blue Cross Blue Shield companies to drive this new strategy and bring real change."Kim Keck, President and CEO Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

Working together for a common goal

Leading health organizations are currently working to eliminate health disparities through education. The Office of Minority Health offers programs on cultural and linguistic competency through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.Training serves to bring about positive health outcomes for the nation's rapidly growing percentage of Americans with non-white racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies have a long history of supporting community partnerships that aim to achieve health equity. Here are some examples:

Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.

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