Welcome to a celebration of 85 years of Independence Blue Cross, dedicated to the health and well-being of our community. Since our founding, we have been committed to providing access to quality care and maintaining the trust of those we serve. Our journey, intertwined with generations of families in the Philadelphia region, has been one of reliability and support that our members have come to depend on. Join us as we reminisce about our company history.
Philadelphia's Hometown Insurer for 85 Years
Tracing the Origin of Independence Blue Cross
Independence Blue Cross was established in 1938 as the Associated Hospital Service of Philadelphia, located on the NW corner of 16th and Sansom streets. Philadelphia Mayor S. Davis Wilson was the first member and Independence Hall was the first employer group.
Affordable Care and High Member Satisfaction
In the 1940s our First Pre-Paid Hospital Care Plan was established, costing just three cents a day. in a 1944 member survey, more than 98% of respondents said they would recommend us to a friend.
Computing and Communications Upgrades for Faster Health Care
In the 1950s we introduced modern computing machines into our offices and collaborated with Bell Telephone to develop a teletype communications system that connected Independence to network hospitals. This allowed benefits to be approved within hours of a member’s admission. During this decade, we also created a physician review board to oversee hospital care for our members.
Pioneering Pre-paid Health Plans and Enhanced Member Services
In the 1960s we pioneered innovative programs such as prepaid health plans, which allowed members to pay a fixed fee for comprehensive health care services. We served more than 1,500 visitors each day at the Independence Subscriber Service Walk-in center, located at 13th and Chestnut streets.
Leading in Hospital Energy Conservation and Health Education
In 1976 we created the first experiment in hospital energy conservation, which was later considered the most successful in the nation. We also launched education campaigns about the importance of preventive health and seeking regular medical care.
Revolutionizing Health Plans after 50 Years
In the 1980s we introduced two industry-changing, managed care health plans to the Philadelphia market – Keystone Health Plan East HMO and Personal Choice PPO. We aired an educational media campaign called Take Good Care of Yourself, which featured television, radio, and print segments, and former Philadelphia Eagles coach Dick Vermeil. We began doing business as Independence Blue Cross in 1988 in celebration of our 50th anniversary. The following year, our current headquarters was built at 1901 Market Street.
Embracing Diversity and Community Engagement
In the 1990s our Board of Directors launched its first committee to specifically address employment and contracting for diverse communities. We also expanded our reach by sponsoring the newly opened Independence Blue Cross® RiverRink along the Delaware River at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia, as well as becoming the lead sponsor of the Independence Blue Cross® Broad Street Run, now the largest 10-mile race in the country.
Health Care Advancements and Volunteer Initiatives
In the 2000s we joined the “Blue Distinction Center” designation, helping members locate the best specialty care facilities in the region. We also established the Blue Crew associate volunteer program and held our first official volunteer project on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Since 2001, Blue Crew members have volunteered hundreds of thousands of hours to local causes and supported more than 100 diverse nonprofit organizations across the region, including those that are working to address good health and well-being, food insecurity, and education and literacy.
A Focus on Health Equity
In 2011 we established the Independence Blue Cross Foundation, whose mission is to lead sustainable solutions to improve the health and well-being of communities in our region.
Embracing Technology and Expanding Our Network
In the early 2010s we launched IBX Wire, which puts important health information at members’ fingertips via their smartphones as well as Tandigm Health, a leading network of primary care physicians in Southeastern Pennsylvania dedicated to improving quality and efficiency of care. We worked with regional providers and payers to launch HealthShare Exchange of Southeastern Pennsylvania, one of the most robust health information exchanges in the country.
Offering New Wellness Resources to Our Community
In the late 2010s we opened Independence LIVE, a 10,000 square-foot state-of-the-art customer and community health and wellness experience center; held the first annual B.PHL Innovation Festival, which highlighted organizations, local entrepreneurs, and individual innovators throughout the Philadelphia region; and opened the Daniel J. Hilferty Center for Innovation — a physical space at IBX headquarters geared toward engaging its associates, customers, and the public.
Navigating a Global Pandemic and Prioritizing Mental Health
In 2020 we launched the Beat COVID-19 public health campaign and led efforts to improve access to vaccines in the Philadelphia region throughout the pandemic. We also purchased our corporate headquarters at 1901 Market Street and established the African American Supplier Mentoring Program with eight of IBX’s active suppliers, expanding business opportunities for both suppliers and the community.
Achieving Equitable, Whole Person Health
In the 2020s we reinforced our focus on more equitable health care with the launch of Accelerate Health Equity and the Independence Blue Cross Foundation Institute for Health Equity. We also invested in Quartet Health to speed access to quality behavioral health.
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