Health inequities aren’t just political talking points, they’re a matter of public health, with life or death consequences. Data from the Centers for Disease Control confirms health inequity exists on gender, racial, and regional lines. Parents belonging to underrepresented groups are at an acute disadvantage: for example, Black and Hispanic women are up to three times more likely than white women to suffer from life-threatening complications during childbirth.
Lack of access to quality care is core to the problem. By investing in holistic, inclusive benefits, employers can better support working parents and their families and help bridge health inequities. Here’s why:
1. Families are central to workplace diversity and inclusion
Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) rank as top priorities for over two-thirds of HR teams this year. But while most DEIB strategies center on engagement, compensation, recruiting, and representation, another dimension is just as critical: health equity, especially among parents.
Why specifically parents? The majority of underrepresented employees in the workforce are raising families, making them a critical demographic to support. Working families account for 60% of Black employees, 56% of Latinx employees, and 57% of Asian employees. And less than half of those mothers and fathers say their companies are doing enough to support them right now.
"The number of parents who have had to leave their jobs because of family commitments and COVID is staggering and needs to be addressed,” said Joe Wilson, Senior Career Advisor at MintResume. Unemployment among Latina, Black, and Asian mothers has grown to nearly double the rate for white mothers.
"Really, the focus needs to be on making sure these parents can continue in their role with whatever they need,” he said. Return-to-work coaching, childcare support, and other family benefits can help keep turnover among new parents low — under normal postpartum circumstances or returning to work after COVID.
2. Care matching leads to more equitable outcomes
Giving employees access to family benefits like telemedicine, fertility coverage, and surrogacy is an important step toward improving health equity. But benefits inclusivity is about more than coverage breadth — provider empathy and service quality matter just as much.
Care matching refers to the accommodation of patient requests for a provider of the same demographic or background. Evidence suggests care matching can alleviate some of these disparities. One Stanford University study found that pairing Black patients and doctors resulted in more engaged conversations, improved prescription adherence, greater willingness to undergo preventative care.
It’s a dynamic that Dr. Kathleen Green, an OB-GYN at the University of Florida, has seen first-hand. “I get patients all the time that ask, is it okay to ask for a Black or Hispanic OB-GYN or doula?” Dr. Green said during a Maven webinar. “To me, health equity is about making sure each patient gets the care they need.”
International teams also benefit from matching, particularly when accommodations are made regarding different dialects, cultures, and religions. Maven’s care providers speak 30 different languages, including Spanish, French, Hindi, and Hebrew, and have clinical expertise in faith-based care. Learn more about our provider diversity here.
3. Telehealth bridges access gaps
Last year, distributed and remote work transitioned from a relative novelty to business reality, benefiting companies with higher productivity, lower real estate costs, and a global talent market to recruit from. But while distributed work also grants workers greater flexibility, it comes at a cost with respect to health equity. In the case of workers outside major metropolitan areas, that means limited access to specialists like obstetricians, perinatologists, and endocrinologists. For instance, just half of US counties have a single OB-GYN.
Telemedicine helps bridge these gaps, giving families equal access to quality care wherever they are. Telemedicine also helps lower healthcare costs, amounting to $120 of savings per visit, or $1,500 in cases where it diverts patients away from emergency rooms.
Since the start of the pandemic, usage of telehealth has also increased by over 150%. That’s hardly a short-term trend, as patient surveys show that nearly 90% of US workers plan to continue using telemedicine after the pandemic ends.
Maven’s virtual clinic is the largest telemedicine network specializing in women’s and family health, featuring over 30 types of specialist care providers. Ongoing assessments, proactive check-ins, and human touchpoints drive industry-leading engagement, resulting in positive outcomes including 20% lower C-section rates, 32% lower NICU admission rates, and a 4:1 business return on investment.
4. Health equity is a recruiting differentiator
The pandemic spotlighted the challenges working parents face, and companies offered them additional benefits and greater flexibility in response. Still, millions of parents — the majority being mothers — had to leave the workforce to care for their families. Now that businesses are reopening (and engaging in an unprecedented hiring spree) they’ll have the opportunity to both grow their business and drive health equity for families.
“Families bore a disproportionate burden during the pandemic. Companies should target a hiring plan to help parents, especially mothers, get back to work by adjusting the hiring process to eliminate potential biases,” said Tom Winter, co-founder of DevSkiller. Offering a holistic suite of family benefits like child care support, adoption assistance, and postpartum counseling won’t just make it easier to attract this talent, but retain them for the long haul.
“Companies that set up programs and benefits like these are helping to reduce the disproportionate burden on parents and ultimately create a better environment for them to stay in the workplace and thrive,” Winter said.
Maven’s pioneering virtual care model is built around women and families, delivering better — and more equitable — outcomes for everyone. To learn how we help you build a holistic family benefits plan tailored to your employees’ needs, get in touch with Maven today.
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