Company serves 1.2 million Kentuckians, employs 1,100
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Aug. 28, 2013) — Saying, “Let’s start this off right,” Gov. Steve Beshear led hundreds of employees and guests in singing “Happy Birthday” Tuesday to Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
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The company marked its 75th anniversary in Kentucky with a picnic and ceremony at its northeast side offices; the governor proclaimed it Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Day in the commonwealth.
“The people of Kentucky can be proud of this homegrown company that has done so much to improve the health of our communities the past 75 years,” Beshear said. “In addition, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield contributes to the health of our state’s economy as a major employer and an active corporate citizen providing support for health causes, the arts and education.”
Anthem began in Kentucky as the Louisville Community Hospital Service, which was formed in 1938 at a time when many hospitals were on the verge of closing because of financial pressure.
“Hospitals were trying desperately to collect their bills but without much success,” wrote James S. Judy in “Profile of Kentucky Blue Cross,” published in 1965. “People who went to the hospital had no form of prepayment plan for hospitalization, and very few if any had been able to save for such an emergency.”
Anthem has grown from 70,000 policyholders in the early years of its existence into the state’s largest health insurer today, serving 1.2 million members across Kentucky. Nationwide, 1 in 3 Americans carries a Blue Cross and Blue Shield card.
“Things have changed a lot in 75 years,” said Joseph Swedish, CEO of WellPoint Inc., Anthem’s parent company. “Our membership has grown exponentially, the health care system is far more complex, and we rely on technology far more heavily. But one thing that hasn’t changed is our commitment to our local communities, our commitment to making Kentucky a healthier, better place to live not just for our members but for all Kentuckians.”
The ceremony concluded with a donation of $75,000 from Anthem to the March of Dimes, an organization also established 75 years ago.
“The rate of babies born prematurely and with low birth weight is a major public health concern in Kentucky,” said Deb Moessner, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Kentucky president. “That’s why we’ve been a strong backer of the March for Babies walks across the state in this anniversary year. It’s our way of saying happy anniversary to a partner that has done and continues to do so much good work in communities across the state.”
Last year, Anthem contributed nearly $2 million and hundreds of volunteer hours to health-related initiatives and civic causes across Kentucky.
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield employs 1,100 people at offices in Louisville and Lexington. Of those, more than 250 have worked for Anthem for more than 25 years, Moessner said.
“The reason we’re a great company is you,” she said to the employees at the ceremony, all clad in blue Anthem t-shirts.