The lifelong impact of maternal health benefits

Senan Ebrahim
Chief Executive Officer
at Delfina
min read

Since women left the workplace in droves during the pandemic, retaining and recruiting women has been at the forefront of employers’ minds. For many working women, healthcare and benefits can make or break a job opportunity. In a survey of over 1,000 women aged 18-60, 71% said they would leave their job for better benefits.

With declining access to reproductive health services all over the country, the need for comprehensive women’s healthcare is paramount. Expanding maternal health benefits doesn’t just affect women during pregnancy and postpartum; it can impact women’s health throughout their lives and, ultimately, curb associated healthcare costs. 

Pregnancy is far more dangerous in the U.S. than it should be — our maternal mortality rates are the highest of any high-income nation. For each patient who dies from pregnancy-related causes, there are countless more who experience long- and short-term health problems related to pregnancy (maternal morbidity), such as cardiovascular disease, blood clots, high blood pressure, and infection. In 2019, the societal costs for maternal morbidity, which include medical and non-medical costs, were estimated to be at least $32 billion.

It’s generally understood that chronic conditions like these drive up costs. But what many employers don’t realize is how big of an impact pregnancy complications can have on their employee’s health later down the line. Disabilities and chronic illnesses stemming from maternal morbidity can have ongoing and compounded effects on a birthing person, their children, and other household members. 

Chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes or hypertension can shape every aspect of a person’s life: their nutrition, schooling, and workforce participation. If a patient is not appropriately supported, unmanaged gestational diabetes can result in higher costs and more complications during pregnancy. 50% of women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy may develop type 2 diabetes later in life, a chronic condition that can impact healthcare spending, workforce engagement, and productivity. 

Today, traditional pregnancy benefits like FMLA and parental leave aren’t enough to support the needs of a diverse workforce and mitigate the financial risk of insuring a high-cost but essential population. A comprehensive women’s health strategy must encompass more than fertility and menopause support. It should also include contraception, family planning, menstruation, pregnancy, and postpartum support. By deploying the use of a connected care solution that puts a patient’s care team, quality education, and community support in the hands of those who need it, employers can address future workplace health challenges and high costs proactively before they become a problem.

At a time when women are more likely to die in childbirth than their mothers were, comprehensive women’s health benefits, including personalized pregnancy support, must be at the top of every benefits leader’s priority list. Without robust, connected support during pregnancy and postpartum, no women’s health strategy is complete. 

If you are a benefits leader and want to learn more about what you can do to support the health of your women employees, I’ll be speaking at HR Transform. You can connect with me to learn more about how we partner on comprehensive women’s health benefits.

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