Next Generation Family Support To Improve Maternal Health Outcomes

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When employers choose coverage for family planning, there’s a lot of focus on benefits for a healthy pregnancy and delivery and preparing for big life changes. But what about the support that makes it possible for families to thrive, such as paid parental and sick leave or equal access to quality care? Addressing health inequities, both in improving health outcomes of mothers and babies and removing barriers to returning to the workforce, can have an impact on the health of the workplace population.

Each path to parenthood is unique, and personalized assistance is needed to support modern families. Employers play an important role in employees’ health before, during, and after welcoming a new child into their family. Innovative health leaders committed to improving health for everyone, like Anthem, offer a variety of plans and health and wellness programs to help people to prioritize their health and support parents through planning, pregnancy, birthing, and raising their children. How can employers ensure they are taking the best action to improve equity and remove access barriers to healthcare?


Parents In The Workforce Face Challenges That Can Affect Health Outcomes


The majority of people who give birth are also in the workforce. Women make up nearly 50% of the workforce and 86% of women between 40 and 46 are mothers. But more than one in four women in the United States are considering scaling back on their career or leaving the workforce entirely. Parents are waiting longer to have children, which can increase the chances of a high-risk pregnancy or experiencing infertility. These struggles can be isolating, negatively impacting a person’s emotional well-being at home and at the workplace. Balancing work and family life can be extremely challenging; many have to choose between the two. This can impact behavioral and financial health.


Compared with other developed nations, childbirth in the United States carries more risk of maternal mortality, unexpected labor outcomes, and premature birth. This can be due to racial disparities or challenges accessing care; however, some of the causes are preventable.


Providing Support For Today’s Parents Through A Variety of Solutions


Employees have higher expectations for their work benefits after the challenges of the last few years. Around 60% of employees have left or considered leaving a job because of inadequate family benefits. Parents are experiencing exhaustion from trying to balance work and childrearing, struggling with finding consistent childcare, and reevaluating work-life balance.


Employers can meet these needs by providing employees with end-to-end family-journey support. Virtual tools, like Anthem’s Sydney℠ Health app, offer added flexibility and support for those late-night fevers. Connecting pregnant women with centers of excellence, birth centers, and certified nurse midwives can lower risk for preterm birth, labor complications, C-sections, and interventions, while offering high-quality care at lower costs.


Offering paid parental leave provides opportunities for infants to establish a strong bond with parents and breastfeeding, which are linked to improved child and maternal health outcomes.


Employers can reduce barriers in returning to work by paying a living wage so parents can decide in favor of returning to work over becoming an unpaid caregiver. Providing access to daycare, such as dependent care flexible spending accounts, allows parents to work while knowing their children are safely cared for. Connecting families to community programs provides “it takes a village” support, and offering more flexible hours and remote work are a dream come true for many parents.


Employees who feel supported have a higher return-to-work rate, are more productive and innovative, and are more likely to be proactive in their care — leading to healthier outcomes and reduction of avoidable costs. Employers supporting parents and parents-to-be have been rewarded with 5.5 times more revenue growth due to increased innovation, higher productivity, and greater talent retention. From fertility support and education to postpartum resources and help finding childcare providers, Anthem offers meaningful, empathetic solutions that proactively connect employees’ whole healthcare at all stages of their journey to parenthood.


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