My celebrity crush: Rihanna, forever My dream dinner guest would be: Ruth Bader Ginsburg (the namesake of Ruth Health!)
Making maternal health care accessible and affordable
UNDERSTANDING HOW COMPLEX AND INTERSECTIONAL WE ARE AS INDIVIDUALS. Much of Alison Greenberg’s life, she says, “has been a lens that I looked through to understand really big problems”. A proud Philadelphia native, she believes its diverse population and the glaring disparities between the rich and poor have armed her with a strong sense of justice and injustice that has proven a powerful influence on her career path.
Before launching her company Ruth Health, a nationwide virtual care hub for pregnant and postpartum patients, in 2020, Alison was always fascinated by the human body and its concomitant cultural dynamics. She was inspired in part by her mom, who is an OBGYN and now her Chief Medical Officer. Alison grew up protesting for reproductive rights and fundraising for Planned Parenthood in her extracurricular time.
The idea for Ruth Health arose from the concept of what Alison calls the ‘pregnancy tax’: the time, money and career people lose out on in order to bring life into the world due to the lack of convenience, ease of access and affordability of the US healthcare system. The platform offers many services that in other parts of the world are taken for granted, such as pelvic floor therapy or robust postpartum care.
Fittingly, Alison and her co-founder Audrey Wu named the company in tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the day after her passing. “This is the woman who made it possible for women in America to get a credit card in their own name when they're married. This is a woman who really cared about empowerment, and now she's gone. She was ruthless, and now we have to be ruthless as a result.”
The overturning of Roe v. Wade has put renewed focus on Ruth Health’s mission. “This has been a horribly tough time for a lot of womankind (and for other vagina-owners). Abortion is healthcare. Although we're not abortion providers, so much of our modern healthcare treats a patient who has experienced a miscarriage or pregnancy loss like they've never been pregnant at all. It's really critical that these folks get more support now than ever.”
PAYING IT FORWARD. Ruth Health was shaped in its early days through Y Combinator, something Alison says was pivotal when it came to raising funds, but also highlighted the lack of diversity in the startup world. During the experience, Alison saw underrepresented founders at the accelerator join forces and offer coaching and mentorship to other marginalized entrepreneurs. “When it's 2022, we're no longer able to say this is a pipeline problem. There was clearly a legacy of “old boys club” that made it feel prohibitive to women and other marginalized folks.”
It was during Ruth Health’s evolution that Alison realised being LGBTQIA+ can in fact be a strategic advantage. They’re one of the only care hubs actively using inclusive language, something that separates Ruth Health from its competitors. “In women's health you see a lot of pink and generally very classically feminine presentations of care. That's not really the reality for all of us. Some people are alienated by that. And they deserve visibility as birthing people or folks who chestfeed.”
Ultimately, Alison believes the success of Ruth Health goes beyond the traditional metrics such as revenue and retention. It’s not about the praise of others, but rather, making an impact for others. “My love for women goes beyond my sexuality and it goes beyond women's health. The thing that gets me out of bed is the never-ending fight towards women's equity. And I don't just mean social, I mean economic, racial and ethnic as well. I have always been interested in making sure that women are at the center when we design the future of care”.