Solid financial results allow for continued investments to improve the health and well-being of members and the community
Independence Health Group, Inc., (Independence) the parent company of Independence Blue Cross, LLC, reported solid financial results for 2021 with total revenue of $24.7 billion, up $2.9 billion or 13.3 percent over 2020. When revenues are combined with claims paid on behalf of self-funded employers, Independence had health care funds under management of $34.5 billion in 2021, up from $29.5 billion in 2020.
Independence’s results were largely driven by the continued impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated public health emergency, including a return to pre-pandemic levels of care in most segments varying by product and geography. Revenue growth was partially offset by the company’s ongoing COVID-19 support which totaled more than $600 million in 2021. Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, Independence has implemented efforts that benefit its members, customers, health care providers, and the community, totaling $1.3 billion.
“Our robust growth and diversification strategy helped us remain financially strong during another year filled with uncertainty. A solid financial position allows Independence to pursue innovative opportunities to enhance the health and well-being of the community while helping to drive improvements in health care and care delivery,” said Gregory E. Deavens, Independence president and CEO.
Strong results advance additional investments in equitable whole-person health
Independence’s commitment to addressing whole person health care includes strategic investments in behavioral health, pharmacy solutions, and social determinants of health:
Quartet Health: Independence formed a strategic partnership with Quartet Health to achieve speed to mental health care. As a part of the new collaboration, Quartet raised more than $60 million for its next stage of growth, led by Independence with participation from existing investors GV and Oak HC/FT.
- Evio: Independence was one of five Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans to invest in Evio, a new pharmacy solutions startup. Evio is working to improve the pharmacy experience by tackling affordability, outcomes, and experience with medications.
- Social Determinants of Life, Inc.: AmeriHealth Caritas, Independence’s Medicaid managed care business, formed a new company focused on life outcomes for people challenged by poverty and disability, beginning with an investment in Wider Circle, a tech enabled community health organization.
- Providers. To assist physicians and health care facilities, Independence reinstated an amended precertification process to help facilitate patient flow and donated more than 100,000 masks to providers working with underserved communities.
- Through the IBC Foundation, a $250,000 contribution to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia helped advance vaccines for Philadelphia County teachers and staff, and an award-winning collaboration with Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic and Neuroflow provided support for the mental well-being of nurses. The Foundation also supported programs that address vaccine barriers, like health centers and the CATE mobile response unit.
- Community. Independence promoted vaccine awareness through new phases of two campaigns: Beat COVID-19 and the (new phase) “Our Community. Our Health.” public health campaign with The Philadelphia Tribune. Independence’s focus on protecting the communities it serves was key to the company joining the Vaccine Community Connector program, supporting the All-Faiths Vaccination Campaign and ongoing support of the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium.
2021: Other key milestones
- Achieved 5 out of 5 stars by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for Independence Blue Cross’s Keystone 65 HMO plan, and 4.5 stars for the organization’s Personal Choice 65SM PPO plan.
- Earned an overall 5-star rating out of 5 stars from CMS for AmeriHealth Caritas’ two Medicare Advantage dual eligible special needs plans in Pennsylvania.
- Supported the BCBSA National Health Equity Strategy to confront the crisis in racial health disparities.
- Appointed Seun O. Ross, Ph.D., to serve as the organization’s first-ever executive director of Health Equity.
- Expanded Medicaid managed care business in North Carolina and secured contracts to serve Ohio’s Medicaid and CHIP populations.
- Continued to achieve high ratings and accreditations from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), including Multicultural Health Care Distinction for six AmeriHealth Caritas Medicaid health plans and 5 out of 5 for NCQA Health Plan Ratings 2021: Medicaid for AmeriHealth Caritas Pennsylvania.
2021: A look back
For members and group clients:
- Strive Health. With Strive Health, a leader in kidney care, Independence launched a new program to bring specialized care delivery and coordination to Independence Medicare Advantage members living with chronic kidney disease (stages 4 and 5) and end stage renal disease.
- Podimetrics. With Podimetrics, a virtual care management company dedicated to preventing diabetic amputations, Independence fully insured commercial members who have diabetes and a history of a diabetic foot ulcer can now be remotely monitored for diabetic foot complications using the cellular-connected SmartMatTM.
- IBX Better HealthSM Independence introduced IBX Better Health Champion, a care management and advocacy solution that provides employers with a higher standard of engagement to help them improve employee health, lower health care costs, and increase employee satisfaction.
- To help alleviate the stress associated with student loan debt, Independence Blue Cross and our New Jersey affiliate now offers members access to GradFin, a program to help them reduce student loans and improve their financial well-being – at no cost to the member.
Deavens added: “We remain committed to helping people navigate the pandemic while promoting and investing in equitable, whole-person health. This is evident in our recent announcements about Accelerate Health Equity and the IBC Foundation Institute for Health Equity – each of which will target disparities in health equity in Philadelphia.”
Independence made $50 million in foundation contributions to bolster the communities it serves. This includes $15 million to the Independence Blue Cross (IBC) Foundation and $35 million to the AmeriHealth Caritas Partnership. Independence’s commitment to the IBC Foundation will help fund the new IBC Foundation Institute for Health Equity, which will lead a regional effort to address health disparities in marginalized communities.
The company had net income of $816 million, due in part to strong net investment income of $248 million (pre-tax). In 2021, Independence saw a net income margin of 3.3 percent of total revenue, up from 2.8 percent in 2020. The company committed 83.2 cents of each premium dollar to pay medical costs for its members’ health care. This is up from 82.8 cents in 2020 due in part to a return to care for most segments.
Independence paid more than $900 million in federal, state, and local nonpayroll taxes, state premium taxes, and other Affordable Care Act-related taxes and fees.
“Though we saw claims returning to pre-pandemic levels in our commercial segment, we have not seen that across all lines of business,” said Juan Lopez, Independence executive vice president, chief financial officer, and treasurer. “Looking ahead in 2022, we anticipate continued uncertainty related to health care utilization and costs associated with COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccinations.”
COVID-19 support helped improve access to information and vaccines
Independence extended many of its COVID-19 related policies, programs, and provisions through 2021. Support totaled more than $600 million last year and focused on ensuring access to treatment, testing, vaccines, claims coverage, cost-sharing waivers for COVID-19 visits, donations to community efforts, and the company’s award-winning public health campaigns.
Independence took a leadership role to improve access to vaccines as well as provide information and education about their safety to members of the community. Working with vybe urgent care centers, the company transformed its customer experience center in Philadelphia into a vaccination center, administering more than 20,000 shots.
In 2021, key collaborations with health providers, local government agencies, pharmacies, health systems, and faith-based groups helped thousands of underserved, vulnerable, and homebound populations get vaccinated. Independence’s award-winning Beat COVID-19 campaign provided critical vaccine awareness and education.
Additional COVID-19 support
- Members. Throughout 2021, Independence continued offering $0 copays for telemedicine services and cost share waivers for COVID-19 visits, including for treatment and testing. For individual members, Independence Blue Cross provided ongoing financial support by accepting credit card payments.
- Customers. To help make transitions back to in-person work as smooth as possible, Independence created a comprehensive “Workplace Ready” toolkit and website for employers and hosted a customer forum focused on vaccines. Additional support included the extension of eligibility requirements for group coverage and assistance with testing and vaccination programs.
- Renewed agreement. Independence renewed and expanded its transformative contract with Penn Medicine for a third time. Value-based programs built on shared accountability for both quality and cost of care were first added to the Penn-Independence contract in 2012.
- Clinical Innovation Grants. Independence awarded its inaugural Clinical Innovation Grants to Axia Women’s Health, Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic, and Penn Medicine to help fund five projects aimed at improving the quality and delivery of health care.
- Celebrate Caring. For the third year, Independence honored nurses who provide superior care and compassion to their patients and community through its Celebrate Caring The 2021 campaign generated more submissions than ever before, with over 1,400 nominations for nurses who go above and beyond.
In the community:
- Blue Crew. In 2021, Independence celebrated 20 years of the Blue Crew associate volunteer group and launched the Blue Crew Gives associate giving campaign. Through the campaign and matching gifts program, associates contributed more than $1 million to nonprofits.
- In 2021, more than 900 Blue Crew volunteers donated in excess of 2,700 hours of time to benefit 27 nonprofit organization in our region. Associates recorded an additional 4,600 hours volunteering independently with more than 160 nonprofits.
- Foundation support. The IBC Foundation celebrated 10 years of supporting healthier communities, strengthening the delivery of health care, bolstering the nursing workforce, and convening nationally respected thought leaders to share ideas and strategies.
- IBC Foundation initiatives. Key initiatives in 2021 include an alliance with Temple University to create pathways to nursing for students of color and outreach with WURD Radio to reduce colorectal cancer among African Americans.
- AmeriHealth Caritas Partnership initiatives. The Partnership worked with community stakeholders, providers, and other nonprofits to promote health outreach to vulnerable and underserved communities across the country.
- Independence launched Blue Embrace, an associate assistance fund program to support employees who are experiencing an emergency or hardship event.
- Philadelphia Foundation’s Inaugural Civic 50 Greater Philadelphia honored Independence Blue Cross and AmeriHealth Caritas for their strong commitment to the community.
- Top Workplaces USA, Forbes’ Best Employers in Pennsylvania, and The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Top Workplaces all recognized Independence as a top employer.
- NJBIZ recognized Independence affiliate AmeriHealth New Jersey on its annual Best Places to Work
- AmeriHealth Caritas was recognized as a Forbes Best Employer in Pennsylvania.
- For the fifth consecutive year, Independence earned multiple honors in the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Philadelphia chapter’s Pepperpot Awards. Recognition was given to the Beat COVID-19 campaign, the company’s Our Community. Our Health. collaboration, and the Know Your Mind mental health campaign.
- Independence President and CEO Gregory Deavens was recognized as one of Modern Healthcare‘s 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare for 2021.