Several insurance companies have set up environmental programs. The previous article covers the health insurers Aetna, CIGNA, and Blue Cross Blue Shield. In this article, the health insurers Humana, Wellpoint, and Health Care Service Corporation are covered.
Bicycling benefits are a unique feature provided by the health insurer Humana. Humana offers B Cycle, a bike sharing program that it set up along with two other organizations, Trek Bikes and the CPB Group, an advertising agency that mentions several other green campaigns it has worked on including this Reality Coalition ad reported by Treehugger. Bike sharing is useful in cities where there may not be much space to store bicycles. Bike sharing is also used on college campuses, since bicycles can cost hundreds of dollars which is a big expense for a broke college student. Humana’s other bicycling initiative is called Freewheelin. This bicycle sharing program also reports statistics about the bicyclists such as miles traveled, inspiring friendly competition between communities. Humana mentions on the Freewheelin site that anyone who shows ID and a credit card for the deposit can borrow a bike for free at one of its Resource centers, which is very useful if you’re traveling and want to rent a bicycle without paying an extra charge. Very helpful in certain cities that have many bike trails. According to Freewheelin locations include Henderson, AZ, Mesa, AZ, and Tamarac, FL.
Wellpoint is a health insurance company involved in forest replanting and green IT. Because of its programs in electronic communication and record storage, Wellpoint won an award as a Top Green IT company from Computer World. Computer World is a magazine that covers many topics in computer software, hardware, and IT system setups for businesses. Wellpoint worked with Dell Computers on a forest replanting initiative, and also set up green IT practices including reduced energy consumption and clean fuel usage to power its systems. Green IT systems include those mentioned in the Fuel Cells and Servers article on this blog.
Health Care Services Corporation mentions its disaster relief efforts. HCSC is a licensee of Blue Cross Blue Shield, and operates as a separate company. Along with working with Wellpoint on its green IT initiative, HCSC is also active in disaster relief. HCSC sent out donations after Iowa Floods and also worked with Blue Cross Blue Shield on relief for Hurricane Gustav.
The health care bill passed the House today, so health plans are the topics on everyone’s mind. Without a strong public option, clients are seeking out the health insurance provider that is right for them. As with other businesses, health insurers have varying levels of sustainability. I looked up the health insurers Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and CIGNA to see what policies they offer.
Aetna, a major health insurance company, implemented several policies that benefit the environment. Aetna is installing more than a thousand solar panels and implementing energy conserving construction techniques in its new facilities. Their site mentions NRDC LEED certification. This certification shows that a company is building sustainable buildings and includes several requirements covering various architectural improvements. According to the NRDC, areas covered include site sustainability, water conservation, green construction materials, clean energy, and clean air.
Blue Cross Blue Shield also established environmentally friendly policies. One of the main features that this program includes is the electronic delivery of forms known as explanation of benefits, or EOBs. Blue Cross Blue Shield claims that it currently mails out more than three million paper EOB forms each year. Switching to an electronic delivery system cuts out all of the waste associated with paper manufacturing, oil used to deliver the letters, and paper added to the landfills. This electronic switch also provides cost benefits to the insurer and increases communication speed between the insurer and policy holders. Many health insurance providers offer some forms online, although the accessibility of the information varies. Hospitals are also in the process of switching to electronic storage for the same reasons.
CIGNA, another large health insurance provider, is also active in environmental initiatives. According to CIGNA, the company coordinates with its vendors to ensure that recyclable packaging is used, and the company has set up communications systems so that its employees can suggest green initiatives. Hotlines and tip boxes are a common way for employees to send suggestions to management. CIGNA has also constructed buildings out of recycled material, as well as using recycled paper in its directories, and has set up paper recycling bins in its office buildings. These three companies use many of the same environmentally friendly processes. Recycling is emphasized in this CIGNA report.