Blue Shield of California expands maternal health partnership with Mahmee

Blue Shield of California is expanding its partnership with Mahmee as it aims to improve maternal health among its members.

The insurer has worked with Mahmee to provide its always-on, holistic maternal health services in a pilot to certain members. Now, it's growing that relationship to eight employer groups in the Fresno, Los Angeles and San Francisco regions, according to announcement.

Through Mahmee's platform, members can access a variety of maternal health experts—including doulas, nurses, lactation consultants, mental health coaches, nutritionists and care coordinators—on any day during the week. By connecting to this team, members can receive support with monitoring their pregnancy, childbirth education and more.

Jackie Ejuwa, vice president of transformation at Blue Shield of California, told Fierce Healthcare that as the insurer was weighing focus areas for health equity work, maternal health quickly became a clear area in which improvement is necessary.

For example, higher rates of cesarean section delivery tend to lead to worse outcomes for mothers and babies, Ejuwa said. Among Blue Shield of California's population, the C-section rate among Black mothers was 36%, compared to 32% for white mothers and 34% for Hispanic mothers.

Navigating pregnancy is difficult, too, and the supports people can access through Mahmee can prove crucial, Ejuwa said.

"Having the availability of somebody to help them throughout the pregnancy journey is really important to them," she said.

Mahmee's doulas will attend the birth, helping the mother through that experience after they've worked together to prepare for that day to arrive. Ejuwa added that lactation support has also been well received by members who participated in the pilot.

"A lot of us have this conception that breastfeeding is easy," she said, "the baby's born, and you just do it. But a lot of people need support with lactation."

According to the announcement, Mahmee also deploys a diverse team that is "committed to cultural sensitivity, anti-racism and gender-affirming care," which is critical to tackling disparities.

"Our current maternal health crisis demands an innovative solution,” said Melissa Hanna, co-founder and CEO at Mahmee, in the release. “Through our collaboration with Blue Shield, we are closing gaps in maternal health equity and heralding a new model of care for families across California.”