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Independence takes action to ensure employee health during COVID-19 outbreak

Independence takes proactive step and maintains commitment to serve members, customers at highest level

PHILADELPHIA, March 9, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- As one of the region's largest employers, Independence Blue Cross has taken proactive steps to ensure the health and well-being of its workforce during the current outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

(PRNewsfoto/Independence Health Group)

As part of its business-continuity planning, several Independence departments successfully began working from home during the week of March 2 to "stress-test" technology. Today, out of an abundance of caution, the company offered all internal business areas the opportunity to work remotely starting March 10. Independence buildings will remain open. The company leadership stated that it will continue to serve members, customers, and partners at the highest level.

"As a health care company and the region's largest insurer, it is our responsibility to lead and above all else, protect the health and well-being of our employees, and in turn, the wider community," said Daniel J. Hilferty, CEO of Independence Health Group, the parent company of Independence Blue Cross.  "Over recent years we have invested in our technology and training so that most of our employees are able to work from home. This approach will in no way affect the quality of our work as a company. Our members rely on us at some of the most vulnerable times of their lives, so it is critical that they have the security of knowing that we will be there for them when they need us. We will not waver in our commitment to our members and customers."

"This business change reduces person-to-person contact for those working remotely. It also reduces the density of people and the level of exposure to others for those who continue to work in our buildings," said Dr. Richard Snyder, chief medical officer and executive vice president, Facilitated Health Networks for Independence. "We'll continue to monitor the situation and make decisions to ensure the health and safety of our workforce – our greatest asset – while maintaining the highest level of service for our valued members and customers."

Independence has also been communicating regularly with associates about COVID-19 and has taken numerous steps to reduce the threat of COVID-19 in its workforce. Some efforts include:

  • Reviewing and testing business continuity plans to ensure that our associates are prepared to work from home, if needed. Many of our teams, including our customer service team, have been working to ensure that employees can work remotely easily and efficiently.
  • Requiring associates to remain home when sick.
  • Asking associates to notify their managers if they or someone they are in close contact with has plans to travel – or has recently traveled – to an area outside of the United States or a domestic area with a high number of reported COVID-19 cases.
  • Reinforcing the importance of preventive actions, such as washing and sanitizing hands frequently and practicing good respiratory etiquette (such as coughing or sneezing into a tissue or your elbow).
  • Regularly disinfecting all surfaces at our facilities, especially frequently-used surfaces like door handles and elevator buttons. We are also making disinfectant readily available to associates in common areas, including our wellness and fitness center.

As well, Independence offered a second onsite flu shot clinic for employees who weren't vaccinated earlier in the season. Although the flu shot provides no immunity or known benefit against COVID-19, influenza is still widespread in our region and flu season is expected to continue through April.

Independence continues to closely monitor the situation, here in the region and across the country with fellow Blue plans. And Independence is working with key stakeholders – elected officials, public health organizations, health systems, and others.

Independence also released a statement on March 6 about its decision to cover and waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing and to waive co-pays for telemedicine visits for the next 90 days. More information on the Independence site dedicated to coronavirus.

Independence encourages members and others to visit the site for the latest news and updates.

Media Contact: Laura Hanes
215-241-2736 (office)
215-910-0966 (mobile)
Laura.Hanes@ibx.com

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SOURCE Independence Blue Cross