At UnitedHealthcare, we are dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making the health system work better for everyone. We recognize that the health care environment is constantly evolving and believe that we must be proficient at adapting to change as we pursue a course of continuous and positive innovation. Using past experiences, we can invent a better future to make the health care system serve everyone more fairly, productively and consistently.
Making the health care system work for everyone requires a focus on populations whose negative health outcomes are preventable. This includes new mothers. According to the Michigan Maternal Mortality Surveillance Program, nearly 64% of pregnancy-related maternal deaths are preventable, and 80-90 maternal deaths occur each year in Michigan alone.1
Apart from access to high-quality, clinical, perinatal care, doulas provide support across the entire pregnancy that positively impacts maternal and infant health outcomes.2 Research shows that continuous doula labor support reduces rates of cesarean delivery and increases 5-minute Apgar scores as well as new mothers’ ratings of the childbirth experience. Doulas additionally work to reduce inequities in their communities – frequently supporting birthing families of shared backgrounds.3
Committed to improving maternal and infant health outcomes, UnitedHealthcare Community and State recently invested $198,000 into regional development of the doula workforce. With this investment, participants are able to apply for scholarships which provide doula training and relevant continuing education. The continuing education courses help doulas to become registered Medicaid providers and to gain a deeper understanding of the Medicaid population.
The courses cover Medicaid topics as well as the role of doulas in reducing stigma surrounding substance abuse disorder. In addition to Medicaid content, courses include support for queer and transgender people and people with disabilities.
Along with the 20 training scholarships available in Michigan, UnitedHealthcare is working to improve birth outcomes and access to holistic support by building relationships with local doula organizations.
UnitedHealthcare Community and State’s investment in doula workforce development supports the recent push to utilize doula services in managed care organizations.² Doula services have historically been unavailable to those with low income as they were previously not covered by Medicaid or insurance. However, as of October 2022, eight state Medicaid programs and the District of Columbia cover doula services. Michigan is one of four additional states in the process of implementing doula coverage within its Medicaid programs.
By reducing financial barriers to doula training and Medicaid provider registration, UnitedHealthcare advocates for change within maternal health care. Through expansion of emotional and educational support offerings UnitedHealthcare works to invent a future that makes health care work for everyone.