The 32BJ Health Fund, a unique labor-management partnership, announced that eight hospitals in New York and New Jersey will be part of a first-of-its kind program to focus on lowering pregnancy complications.

Total out-of-pocket costs for prenatal care and delivery at hospitals in the program will be as little as $40 for all medical care for tens of thousands of working-class mothers in New York and New Jersey.

NEW YORK– The 32BJ Health Fund today announced the five New York City and three New Jersey hospitals that will participate in a first-of-its kind program to lower the rates of complications, unnecessary C-sections and episiotomies for new mothers and make maternity care even more affordable for the working-class union members who participate in the plan. Hospitals were selected based on their responses to a Request for Information that the 32BJ Health Fund released last summer.

The NYC hospital partners are: NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi, NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan, Mount Sinai West and Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn.

The NJ hospital partners are: Atlantic Health System’s Morristown and Overlook Medical Centers and Hackensack University Medical Center (Hackensack Meridian Health).

32BJ SEIU union members and their eligible dependents covered by the 32BJ Health Fund will be able to enroll in the 32BJ Maternity Program starting April 1st. The program will help them choose a provider for prenatal care and a high-quality hospital for labor and delivery. In a series of focus groups last year, 32BJ Health Fund plan participants said they had challenges navigating the healthcare system and finding the right hospital to deliver their baby was difficult.

The 32BJ Maternity Program will help plan participants find the high quality provider and hospital that is right for them. The program will also bring transparency to hard-to find quality data that expectant parents would want to see when choosing a provider and hospital and it will educate plan participants about key questions to ask their providers about the care they need.

The 32BJ Maternity Program will also lower plan participants’ out-of pocket costs to as low as $40 for all prenatal care and labor and delivery costs. As childbirth has become more expensive for many American families, the Health Fund is focused on ensuring a healthy pregnancy and a safe delivery that is affordable for plan participants. A recent article in the Atlantic pegged the average price of delivery at more than $ 4500 , even for families that had health insurance.

While the price for prenatal care and delivery has been low for plan participants, the new program makes it even more affordable, as participants who enroll in the 32BJ Maternity Program and deliver at one of the partner hospitals will get a rebate on the $100 hospital copay and will also receive some gifts, including a choice of high-value items like a car seat and self-care items specifically for the expecting mom.

The 32BJ Maternity Program aims to reduce the rates of harm to pregnant women. The Health Fund previously identified that its plan participants in New York City and New Jersey had a C-section rate of 40%, an episiotomy rate of 25.6%, and a high rate of Severe Maternal Morbidity– which refers to dangerous complications during labor and delivery like a heart attack or sepsis. In comparison, hospitals in the program have an average risk adjusted C-section rate (NTSV) of 24.6% and an episiotomy rate of 7%.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 50,000 American women are harmed giving birth each year — the rates of maternal harm are significantly higher for Black women and other women of color.

“We’re excited to offer this new program, which we believe will transform the way health plans and hospitals prioritize services for mothers,” 32BJ Health Fund Director Sara Rothstein said. “We’re partnering with hospitals that have already made a commitment to practices that lower the risk of harm for women. They also have much lower C-section and episiotomy rates than the average we saw for plan participants who delivered in hospitals across New York City and New Jersey.”

Being self-insured, the 32BJ Health Fund is able to design and implement these kinds of innovative programs to create more value for its plan participants.

Support for this work was provided in part by the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth).