By Roger Milliner Chief Growth Officer at MetroPlusHealth
Known as the “second Independence Day” of the country, Juneteenth symbolizes the liberation of African Americans from the chains of slavery. It also serves as a powerful reminder of the ongoing journey toward a future where equality prevails. This pursuit is impossible without addressing equitable access to quality health care for Black families.
Health care organizations cannot be bystanders. With tangible steps that foster trust, understanding, and equitable care, we can transform the health care system into a resource that truly serves and uplifts Black families.
Embrace Cultural Competence and Personal Connections
Cultural competence should be a priority. Health care leaders must have a deep understanding of the communities they serve. Face-to-face interactions are an essential part of breaking down the barriers standing between patients and providers.
MetroPlusHealth, a health plan that exclusively serves NYC, embraces this approach. Its new flagship location in Harlem was designed with cultural competence in mind. The space isn’t just an office. It is a venue for education, health screenings, and even holiday celebrations.
Protect the Well-Being of Black Mothers
Maternal mortality rates for Black women and pregnant people are disproportionately high. According to the CDC, Black perinatal patients are three times more likely than their white counterparts to die nationwide. In New York City, the mortality rate is nine times higher for Black patients.
MetroPlusHealth’s 2023 Motherhood Report shows that many are still in the dark about this issue. In this study with over 1,000 participants, 50% held the incorrect belief that Black and white birthing people have the same maternal mortality rates. This lack of awareness is a barrier to achieving progress.
To create a system that addresses these issues, we need to utilize a two-pronged approach. First, we need systemic changes within our care systems to acknowledge implicit bias and standardize care coordination including within emergency response. Then as a community, we need proactive education to ensure birthing people have access to holistic care.
Place full coverage at the forefront
While high health care costs are a concern for many families, the impact is disproportionately felt within underserved communities. To create an equitable future, individuals and families need to be well-informed about low-cost options offering comprehensive coverage.
That’s why health plans like MetroPlusHealth are essential. As a nonprofit, its care-first approach makes comprehensive coverage truly accessible. Here, dental, vision, and behavioral health are not luxuries. They are a given.
To make people aware of these options, we need community-based, proactive outreach. Trusted institutions in our neighborhoods must work together. Churches, community centers, barber shops and corner stores should all play a part in advancing health equity.
Create a Brighter Future for Our Children
To transform the health care system, we also need to consider its workforce. More Black men and women must be empowered to pursue careers within this sector.
To accomplish this, we must translate the spirit of liberation into a passion for STEM education. Black youth should be encouraged to pursue careers in scientific fields. Their participation will make a positive impact felt across generations. By bridging the racial health gap, we can create a brighter future for our families.