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Press Release

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, but IBC Fights this Growing and Devastating Disease Every Day

IBC's Lead Sponsorship of and Participation in Step Out: Walk to Fight Diabetes Earns it an Award

Philadelphia, PA - November 19, 2009 - Today, IBC received one of the top corporate team awards from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) after mobilizing a team of nearly 400 walkers who raised $36,000 through donations and its corporate matching gift program for the ADA's Step Out: Walk to Fight Diabetes presented by Independence Blue Cross (IBC). This fall, more than 3,500 people gathered to participate in the ADA's signature fundraising walk that takes place in 160 cities across the country. IBC, along with a number of local corporate teams, helped ADA meet and surpass an aggressive fundraising goal of $415,000. To date, walkers, volunteers, donors, and corporate sponsors alike have raised $550,000, bringing the ADA one step closer to finding a cure for the nearly 24 million Americans living with diabetes - America's fastest growing disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of diabetes cases nationwide increased by 90 percent over the past decade. In Philadelphia alone, 11 percent of people have the disease, and that's 3 percent higher than the national average. In 2008, the estimated direct and indirect cost of diagnosed diabetes was $174 billion. Not only do costly complications of diabetes, such as heart disease, amputation, and blindness have a significant impact on the U.S. health system and its rising costs, but some complications can lead to death. In 2007, for example, diabetes killed nearly 300,000 people across the U.S.

"Although chronic diseases like diabetes are among the most common and costly health problems, they are also among the most preventable," said Joseph A. Frick, president and chief executive officer, IBC. "Our sponsorship of Step Out and the enthusiastic participation of our associates, in addition to our strong focus every day on obesity and diabetes-related prevention, management, and support programs, is a clear demonstration of how we are here for our members every step of the way."

Prevention is key

Though type 1 diabetes can often be tied to genetics, type 2 is largely attributed to lifestyle choices. Sadly, a trend of unhealthy lifestyles is plaguing children and adults alike. According to the CDC, in the last two decades type 2 diabetes has been reported among U.S. children and adolescents with increasing frequency. Health care providers are finding more and more children with type 2 diabetes - a disease usually diagnosed in adults 40 years or older.

"Research shows that as weight increases to levels of  'overweight' and 'obese' so do the chances of developing coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes," said Richard L. Snyder, M.D., senior vice president Health Services, IBC. "It is imperative that children develop good eating habits and get the exercise they need to live active, healthy lifestyles and avoid these diseases and their serious complications. We are proud of the prevention programs we have in place to tackle childhood obesity and diabetes."

Because childhood obesity is on the rise and is a leading contributor to type 2 diabetes in children, IBC introduced Health eTools for Schools, a unique, web-based program designed to help area schools promote student wellness and combat childhood obesity. Now, further plans are in place to help promote better nutrition and physical activity planning in schools. One example is the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Education's Active Schools initiative. Through this program, sponsors like IBC contribute grants to local schools that must use the funding for physical activities and programs for students.

Other Blue partners throughout the country are getting involved in various initiatives as well. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association recently launched a pilot program in five states called the Pediatric Obesity and Diabetes Prevention Pilot Program. Doctors within the pilot program receive prevention toolkits containing reference materials and educational, behavior-changing tools to share with patients and parents.

In addition to prevention-related programs, IBC continues to support members that are already living with diabetes through a variety of programs. The award-winning ConnectionsSM Health Management Program targets members with diabetes and other chronic conditions through one-on-one support with health coaches. IBC also offers six free nutritional counseling visits and fitness reimbursements for logging time at the gym to help members form or maintain healthy eating habits and exercise routines - both of which can help members better manage, control, and prevent chronic diseases like diabetes.

About Independence Blue Cross

Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania. Nationwide, Independence Blue Cross and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.3 million people. For more than 70 years, Independence Blue Cross has 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 supports comprehensive health care reform that would extend coverage to all Americans, reduce costs, and improve quality. We also advocate reform that builds on the current employer-based system that currently serves 170 million Americans. Learn more about our views on health care legislation now working its way through Congress by visiting our website.

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

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