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At our core: 85 years of health care innovation

Since Independence Blue Cross (Independence) was founded 85 years ago, innovation has been one of our cornerstones. From pioneering prepaid health plans in the 1960s to collaborating to distribute affordable insulins in 2022, our ability to innovate that helps us have a positive impact on the health and well-being of the Greater Philadelphia region.

“Innovation is core to who we are at Independence Blue Cross – it always has been, and it always will be. We’re not only reflecting on our 85 years having served this community but are looking forward to the work we will do over the next several decades. It is that forward-thinking and leadership that positions us for continued success. In the near-term, we’re leveraging data and analytics to address implicit bias in health care and building partnerships to address the high cost of prescription drugs that are impacting everyday Americans,” said Mike Vennera, executive vice president and chief strategy, corporate development, and information officer at Independence.

Founded in 1938, Independence has shown a breadth of innovation in the last eight decades. This work would not have been possible without the strategic collaborations and relationships we have nurtured with providers and community leaders over our history.

Take a look at our innovative approaches over the last 85 years.


  • 1940s: While many of our male associates were serving in World War II, our female associates were stepping in and taking on the role of marketing representatives for Independence Blue Cross.
  • 1950s: We began using modern computing machines in the accounting and bookkeeping departments.
  • 1960s: We pioneered innovative programs, such as prepaid health plans, which allowed members to pay a fixed fee for comprehensive health care services.
  • 1960s: We had a subscriber service walk-in center at 13th and Chestnut that served more than 1,500 visitors each day.
  • 1974: We offered a Non-group Major Medical plan for the first time.
  • 1980s: We offered Keystone Health Plan East HMO and Personal Choice PPO plans to the Philadelphia market – two industry-changing managed care health plans.
  • 2000s: We offered Health eTools for Schools to combat childhood obesity and introduced the Nurse Scholars Program to address the nursing shortage.
  • 2008: By this time, Independence Blue Cross was funding 34 non-profit health clinics through a Charitable Medical Grant Program. These clinics served more than 96,000 uninsured and underinsured individuals thanks to the program. We also spearheaded a data analysis initiative that provided information critical to group customers and 3.4 million members.
  • 2011: We formed a collaboration with GeoBlue that offered group coverage for international business travel and expatriate insurance products and services.
  • 2016: Independence Blue Cross signed an unprecedented agreement with HealthShare Exchange of Southeastern Pennsylvania (HSX). This made it possible to start linking electronic medical records and data from health insurers’ claims, which gave doctors and health professionals immediate access to medical information necessary to make informed treatment decisions.
  • 2019: We helped launch the first Annual B.PHL Innovation Festival. The festival highlighted organizations, local entrepreneurs, and individual innovators throughout the Philadelphia region.
  • 2019: Independence Blue Cross headquarters opened the Center for Innovation, a 30,000-square foot physical space geared toward engaging its employees and the public. In 2021, the Center was named for former President and CEO Dan Hilferty.
  • 2021: We partnered with Quartet to launch a personal health initiative that addressed behavioral health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and substance use disorder.
  • 2021: We collaborated with four Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers to launch Evio Pharmacy Solutions, which is a company focused on addressing the high cost of prescription
  • 2022: We joined Civica’s initiative to manufacture and distribute affordable insulins. Once approved, these insulins will become available to individuals living with diabetes at a significantly lower price than those already on the market.
  • 2023: We announced the launch of a new entity to enhance member experience called Vistia Health. Vistia Health works to cut through the complexities of health care and change how employers and employees interact with care management.