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Press Release

IBC Motivates 60 Area Employers to Host National Walk @ Lunch Day Events on April 29

Thousands of employees in southeastern PA gear up to join Americans across 50 states to walk

Philadelphia, PA - February 13, 2009 - Sixty of the region's employers attended a kick-off breakfast this week for Philadelphia's second annual National Walk @ Lunch DaySM, sponsored by Independence Blue Cross. Hosted by Independence's President and CEO Joseph A. Frick, the breakfast promoted National Walk @ Lunch Day, a national event held each spring to promote the idea of improving health by walking at lunch.

National Walk @ Lunch Day is spearheaded by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association to encourage employers to hold lunchtime walks for their employees April 29 and promote the health benefits of physical activity during the work day. Lunchtime walks will take place in all 50 states on April 29, sponsored by the 39 Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans across the country.

In the five-county region, more than 15,000 Independence members are expected to participate in Philadelphia's second annual National Walk @ Lunch Day April 29, including 7,500 Center City employees who will circle City Hall, completing a 1.5-mile walk. Employers in locations throughout the region will hold their own walks, including walks led by several suburban school districts for teachers and students.

"Our mission is to strengthen our members' focus on wellness and fitness to help them stay healthy," said Frick. "Since Americans spend more than half their waking hours at work, employers need to help them find ways to exercise during the work day. National Walk @ Lunch Day is an easy, energy-boosting, low-cost way to get people outdoors walking as a first step towards walking regularly. Why? Because active consumers are less stressed and have fewer medical problems."

National Walk @ Lunch Day was a huge success nationally and locally last year. Nationally, tens of thousands of employees walked throughout the U.S. In the Philadelphia region, more than 5,000 employees from 18 companies walked at City Hall and in locations throughout the region.

Every employer who attended Independence's National Walk @ Lunch Day breakfast this week expressed interest in participating in the 2009 walk. Independence Blue Cross invited Center City employers to join the Philadelphia walk around City Hall, and provided employers outside the city with an online toolkit to plan their own walks.

Employer groups say they want to be part of National Walk @ Lunch Day to help their employees find an easy way to stay healthy, which, in the long run, helps reduce the employers' health care costs.

"We participated in 2008 because we saw National Walk @ Lunch Day as a low-cost and fun employee activity that builds morale and camaraderie among work colleagues, while also promoting a healthy lifestyle," said Karen Smallwood, senior benefits analyst for CDI Corporation, a provider of engineering and information technology outsourcing solutions and professional staffing, located in Philadelphia. "This week's kick-off breakfast for the 2009 walk gave us the jump start to begin promoting the event with our employees and we're really excited about it."

"By making exercise part of a daily lunchtime routine, even the busiest individuals can fit exercise into their schedules," said Esther Nash, M.D., senior medical director at IBC. "Inactive lifestyles are at the root of many chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes and certain heart conditions, and the cost of treating these diseases is significant. By fitting in 30 minutes of brisk walking, five times a week, people can lower the risk of developing serious chronic illnesses, while also improving the health of muscles, bones and joints."

Frick added, "We are proud to provide our customers with innovative programs and services they need to promote wellness and we look forward to continuing to expand signature events like National Walk @ Lunch Day."

As part of the City Hall walking event, IBC's Wellness Van will offer walkers and the public free health screenings on a first-come, first-served basis.

Each year Independence also sponsors the Blue Cross Broad Street Run, which will be on May 3 this year, the American Diabetes Association's Step Out: Walk to Fight Diabetes on October 3, and the Blue Cross RiverRink at Penn's Landing, which is open for the winter season through March 1. In addition, Independence Blue Cross encourages members to pursue the advantages of a healthy lifestyle by taking an active role in their health care decisions. Members have comprehensive decision support and 24/7 Health Coaches available to them through ConnectionsSM, and Healthy LifestylesSM programs are designed to educate and encourage healthy behavior through incentive rewards and active participation.

Independence Blue Cross

Independence Blue Cross is the leading health insurer in Southeastern Pennsylvania, providing coverage to nearly 3.4 million people nationwide. For 70 years, Independence Blue Cross and its affiliates have offered high-quality health care coverage tailored to meet the changing needs of members, employers, and health care professionals. Independence Blue Cross's HMO and PPO health care plans have consistently received the highest ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans.