Amanda Nelson, left, and Shannon Gann wash and dust inside of the Lookout Tower during a BlueCross BlueShield volunteer day at the Creative Discovery Museum in downtown Chattanooga on Wednesday. Several shifts of BlueCross employees volunteered to paint, dust, wash windows and more during the work day.Photo by Alyson Wright.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee donated more money and time in 2011 to worthy causes than ever before, the company announced Wednesday.
The nonprofit's $8.2 million in gifts and 12,000 hours of volunteer work broke records going all the way back to its founding in 1945, officials said.
"BlueCross and its employees have a deep sense of commitment to our state and the thousands of communities that comprsie it," said Calvin Anderson, senior vice president of corporate affairs and executive director of BlueCross' Tennessee Health Foundation and Community Trust.
The insurer donated $5.4 million through its Tennessee Health Foundation toward patient safety and children's health. More than $600,000 went to help the uninsured receive care, promote recovery from natural disasters and assist in education. Another $565,000 found its way to more than 150 charitable organizations throughout the state.
"We invest in efforts to improve the health and well-being of our fellow Tennesseans, whether they're our members or not," Anderson said.
Since 2005, the insurer has donated about $31.8 million to charity, though only 11 percent, or $3.5 million, has found its way home to Chattanooga, according to the company's annual report.
About $18 million -- the largest chunk -- was disbursed throughout the state, while Memphis was the largest single recipient of aid at $4.1 million in donations.
Mary Danielson, spokeswoman for the insurer, said the donations do more than just help people in need.
Reducing infant mortality, for instance, doesn't just save lives -- it saves millions in insurance claims, which in turn keeps BlueCross premiums lower.
"Not only are we impacting those children and their families in the community to overcome that tragedy, but at the same time we're trying to help control health care costs," Danielson said. "If it can save our members the grief and the concern of any physical ailment that they could be faced with, and also helps control the cost of their care, that's why we would be involved."
Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...