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Paula Sunshine, chief marketing executive at Independence Blue Cross. 
Paula Sunshine, chief marketing executive at Independence Blue Cross. Photo Courtesy of Independence Blue Cross. 

Independence Blue Cross puts its members first

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For 80 years, Independence Blue Cross has worked to uphold its mission to improve the health and well-being of the communities that they serve.

“That means that we need to be out in the communities, meeting people where they live, work, and play, making it fun and easy to be active, and doing our part to help people understand what it means to be their best selves,” shares Paula Sunshine, chief marketing executive at Independence Blue Cross. 

Independence brings its mission to life through its support of seasonal activities and events, such as Indego Yoga on the Pier, the Blue Cross Broad Street Run, Reach & Raise, and Be Well Philly Boot Camp. Independence has also sponsored National Walk @ Lunch Day for 12 consecutive years.

“The reason why we support these activities is because we want to call attention to these community-wide events that give people an opportunity to get out and be active in a variety of ways, in whatever way speaks to them, whatever way they’re comfortable with, where they live
or work,” Sunshine said.

Five years ago, Independence proposed the idea of taking all the events they’ve supported and sponsored over the years and put them together in a way that would make things more fun, while rewarding people for participating in more than one event.

That idea sparked Fearless Fit, an umbrella initiative by Independence to link people who participated in one event or activity to the next event, and beyond. The goal is to increase participation for future events, get people more excited, and help spread the word through each person’s own social network.

All these activities tie into Independence’s original mission of improving the health and well-being of individuals and families. To this end, Independence understands that going through the rigors of everyday life can often put health and well-being on the backburner for many individuals.

“We live in an increasingly stressful world and I think that being fit and being active increases your resilience,” said Sunshine. “It’s so important to be resilient in today’s world and it just feels good to move your body… that’s why we try to provide all these different options because whatever works for you, it’s important to be out there and to be active.”

Independence Blue Cross associates exercising outside of Independence LIVE. Photo Courtesy of Independence Blue Cross. 

Independence’s commitment to health and wellness does not stop with the Fearless Fit initiative, however.

In September 2016, Independence opened a new 10,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art customer and community health and wellness experience center, called Independence LIVE at 1919 Market Street.

In addition to the emphasis put on the community at large, “we do take extra special care of our members,” Sunshine expressed.

Independence provides a wide range of member benefits that contribute to people’s health and well-being and go well beyond health care access.

Some examples include:

● Nutrition counseling benefits that include six visits with a certified nutritionist to help
members understand ways to make changes to their diet to help them eat a little
healthier.
● Smoking cessation benefits that can help members quit smoking.
● Gym reimbursements, so members can earn money by going to the gym regularly.

In addition, Independence has started to take into account changing the type of benefits provided to members based on some of the social factors that may influence their overall well-being. These social factors include where a person lives and what kind of services that might or might not be available in that area.

Independence is also partnering with physicians who offer social workers in their medical practices or that have pharmacies right in their doctor’s office so members don’t have to make an additional trip to get treatment or medicine. Some physicians also offer transportation benefits to help members get to and from the doctor. And in some cases where Independence members may be challenged to eat properly after a surgical procedure, the company is offering meal delivery.

“We’re really trying to be very careful to understand the other factors that might impact people’s ability to be their best selves,” Sunshine remarked.

At Independence, the member is at the forefront of the services and programs and initiatives that the company creates and supports.

Thanks to its members, Independence has continued running strong for over 80 years and is the largest health insurer in the region.

“Everybody who works here comes to work every day with that at top of mind,” said Sunshine. “Whether it’s the level of benefits, whether it’s the kind of services we offer at Independence Live, whether it’s sponsoring all of these community events — everything we do is really designed to put the member first and foremost.”

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