As a two-time breast cancer survivor, it only makes sense that Dr. Jackie Walters decided to take a stand with Blue Cross Blue Shield in its fight against racial disparities and, specifically, maternal health. An obstetrician and gynecologist, Walters also stars on the popular Bravo series, “Married to Medicine,” where she provides superior service and advice to her Atlanta patients.
Walters’ decision to join Blue Cross Blue Shield Association as part of its health equity initiative in collaboration with a national advisory panel comes at a time when African American women have lost faith in medical practices and practitioners.
“I have started to see more and more patients come into the office, expressing their fears around dying in childbirth,” Walters told Forbes.com. “Almost an overwhelming number of women are coming in and talking about being afraid to go to the hospital.”
Having emerged as a true crisis in America, maternal mortalities represented an overall rate of 17.4 per 100,000 pregnancies in 2018. This equated to approximately 660 maternal deaths that year, according to commonwealthfund.org. Sadly, the maternal death ratio for Black women — 37.1 per 100,000 pregnancies — is more than two times higher than that of White women (14.7) and three times more than Latinas (11.8).
It goes without saying that Walters’ addition and to the BCSBA initiative is more than welcome — and completely necessary.
“Your health shouldn’t depend on the color of your skin or the neighborhood you live in,” said Kim Keck, president and CEO of BCBSA, a national federation of 35 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. “The crisis in racial disparities in our country’s health care is unconscionable and unacceptable. While BCBS companies have made great strides in addressing racial health disparities in our local communities, there is so much more to be done.”