Philadelphia — Independence Blue Cross (IBC), southeastern Pennsylvania health insurer, turns 70 years old this month. Known then as the Associated Hospital Service of Philadelphia, the organization opened its doors Nov. 7, 1938, under the leadership of E. A. Van Steenwyk, who founded Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, and came to Philadelphia to expand the Blue Cross brand. In rented quarters at 1429 Walnut St., Van Steenwyk and four associates comprised the entire original staff. They sat at desks borrowed from the University of Pennsylvania, and used office equipment bought with a small portion of a $30,000 loan from the Community Chest, now the United Way, to finance a new health plan. At the close of its first year, the health plan had 170,000 members.

Today, 70 years later, IBC and its affiliates insure nearly 3.4 million members nationwide, and employ 8,300 people throughout the region. The company offers dozens of different health insurance plans, a complete range of wellness programs and initiatives to save customers money, according to IBC.

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