Renaissance Center Merchants Visit Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Offices in Detroit and Southfield

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan employees from the Metro Service Center in Southfield will be relocating to the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit this spring. The Michigan Blues are committed to downtown, urban areas. To prepare our 3,000 employees and get them excited about the upcoming move, Renaissance Center vendors will be swinging by the Detroit and Southfield offices so that employees can learn more about the exciting array of restaurants, shops and services available in Detroit.

Participating businesses include 15 companies. Menus from many of the dining establishments in the Renaissance Center will be available.

Downtown Detroit businesses outside of the Renaissance Center will introduce employees to the services they offer. In addition, transportation organizations – including SEMCOG, MichiVan, SMART and Royal Transportation – will be featured at the fair with information for employees who are interested in commuter options.

What Detroit restaurants and shops would recommend to our employees who are making the move to the city?

 

New Downtown Lansing Accident Fund HQ Reflects Commitment to Michigan’s Cities

On Tuesday in Michigan’s capital city, a brawny relic that once powered Lansing’s industrial age roared back to life as a magnet for the knowledge-based economy many in Michigan say is key to the state’s future.

Appearing at a ribbon cutting ceremony March 29 at Accident Fund's new downtown Lansing headquarters were (L-R): James Agee, chairman of the Accident Fund board of directors; Steven Roznowski, chairman and CEO of Christman Co.; Daniel J. Loepp, president and CEO, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan; Elizabeth Haar, CEO of Accident Fund Holdings; and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero.

In transforming the Ottawa Street Power Station from abandoned urban brownfield to state-of-the-art offices for its expanding national worker’s compensation business, Accident Fund Holdings delivered a statement that will echo around the country. Accident Fund and its owner — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan — have given people who care about redevelopment, urban revitalization, environmentally sustainable construction and historic preservation architecture a reason to come to Lansing.

I lived in Lansing for six years in the late 1990s. Anyone who has called mid-Michigan home knows why the restoration of the Ottawa Street Power Station is a really big deal. Nestled along the west bank of the Grand River, the power station sat idle and decaying since 1992, its monolithic smokestack harkening back to this community’s 20th century industrial prominence as the place where Oldsmobile was born. The plant blocked pedestrian use of the Grand River’s west bank. It sits squarely between the beautiful Lugnuts baseball park and convention center on the river’s east side, and the one major downtown hotel on the west side of the river.

Both in substance and in symbolism, the new Accident Fund headquarters transforms an aging relic of Lansing’s past into a state-of-the-art catalyst for the region’s growth and future prosperity.

Preserving the Art Deco masterpiece and moving in 650 workers now and up to 500 more over the next 10 years gives another boost to mid-Michigan as a magnet for insurance and financial services jobs. Companies like Jackson National Life Insurance Company, Delta Dental Plan of Michigan, Auto-Owners Insurance and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan have headquarters and major operations in the mid-Michigan region. Blue Cross, in fact, is moving its mid-Michigan workforce of approximately 300 into the former headquarters of Accident Fund on Capitol Avenue, ensuring a stronger workforce presence for Lansing and boosting the downtown’s vitality and quality of life.

The construction team – supervised by Christman, with architecture partner HOK – employed environmentally sustainable practices, ensuring that more than 98 percent of the scrap from the project avoided landfills. Most of the construction crews were hired from Michigan companies, 106 Michigan-based suppliers and companies were involved and the permanent furniture and furnishings were bought from Michigan firms.

On March 30, the Lansing City Pulse dedicated a special section to the project. Headlined “Phoenix Risen,” the articles provide a community view of how this project came to be, and what it means for Lansing’s future.

Blue Cross is proud to add the Ottawa Street Station to our growing list of investments in Michigan’s core cities. BCBSM renovated the vacant Steketee’s department store in downtown Grand Rapids for our West Michigan operations. As mentioned previously, we are moving 300 Blues employees into downtown Lansing. And in May, the Blues will begin moving 3,000 workers into downtown Detroit’s GM Renaissance Center from the suburbs.

These investments in Michigan’s urban cores are more than feel-good storylines – they are good for our business and save us many millions of dollars in costs down the road. But they also do feel good – because cities that buzz with workers are cities that attract more companies and more jobs for the regions around them.

Blue Cross and its Accident Fund subsidiary are here in Michigan to stay – and yeah, we feel pretty good about helping bring Michigan’s cities back.

Andrew Hetzel is vice president for Corporate Communications for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Let’s Put Detroit’s Census Count in Perspective

On the surface, it’s difficult to put Detroit’s significant population loss, as reflected by Census figures released Tuesday, in a positive light. The city is now at its lowest population in 100 years. Back then, Henry Ford’s new assembly line was about to revolutionize industry and draw people by the hundreds of thousands to Detroit in search of a good day’s pay.

But it put a sour taste in my mouth when I read this in The New York Times this morning: “The question now is the degree to which the most recent census figures will discourage those who have invested in Detroit and continue to try to make a go of it.”

I’m here to say unequivocally that our belief in a bright future for Detroit is stronger than ever.

As a native Detroiter who works here every day, I see positive signs nearly everywhere I look. And as I think you’d hear from all who’ve invested time and energy in the city, we’re here to stay.

The Chrysler Super Bowl ad with Eminem may have reinforced our reputation as a metal-bending blue-collar town, and for good reason: After undergoing bankruptcy two years ago, General Motors and Chrysler are back with acclaimed new models, renewed focuses on quality and technology and vastly improved balance sheets. Ford is coming off its most profitable year since the late ‘90s.

But we’re no longer all factory smoke. Detroit was recently cited as the nation’s fastest-growing markets for technology jobs, boosted by a new Microsoft technology center, a vibrant and growing TechTown business incubator, loads of new high-tech automotive engineering jobs and General Electric Co.’s largest concentration of IT professionals in the world.

New businesses are cropping up around downtown and Midtown, and after a shakeup, automakers are luring advertising talent from far and wide. Quicken Loans is relocating thousands of employees from the suburbs to downtown. Wayne State University, Henry Ford Health System and the Detroit Medical Center are offering incentives to workers who agree to move to the dynamic Midtown neighborhood. I could go on.

As one of the largest employers in the city, I recognize that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has an enormous stake in Detroit. It’s why I made the decision last year to begin moving 3,000 Blue Cross employees from the suburbs to the GM Renaissance Center starting this year. The initiative will bring our total downtown Detroit workforce to 6,000; plans are in the works to help orient those employees with nearby restaurants, coffee shops, clothiers, boutiques and other businesses.

It’s also why I decided last year to keep hundreds of information technology jobs in the city rather than outsource them overseas by partnering with Strategic Staffing Solutions, a Detroit-based firm.

Like most people, I was startled by Detroit’s low census count, which city leaders believe is inaccurate. But some perspective is needed.

The results don’t change anything about the positive work underway to revitalize and re-energize this storied city and region. Positive grassroots efforts were underway before this one-day data dump occurred. They’ll continue their steady expansion long after.

Daniel J. Loepp is president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Photo by andorpro.

Participants Climb 70 Flights of Stairs in Detroit to Raise $175,000 for the American Lung Association

Members of Team Climbatize: Trish Hubbell, Kristie Stocker, Joe Lieblang, Shannon McCarthy and Autumn Molnar (left to right).

Burning quads and searing lungs helped raise $174,764.50 for the American Lung Association during its annual Fight For Air Climb stair race in Detroit. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan sent three teams up the 70-floor Renaissance Center to help raise money to fight lung disease.

The Fight For Air Climb attracted individual competitors and teams from across Michigan, neighboring states and Ontario to raise money and climb a total of 1,035 steps for charity. Some 543 climbers finished the event, and the final tally easily surpassed the $138,000 fundraising goal.

Each participant had to meet a $100 fundraising minimum by the morning of the climb March 6. Three BCBSM teams participated in the climb: Team Climbatize, Team Ascent 2011 and Stairway2Health.

“When I saw this was for the American Lung Association, I thought it was a great way to help fund a great organization and grab a lot of other people to spread some awareness of the issue,” said Kristie Stocker, a co-Captain of Team Climbatize. “I feel very touched by this event because I’ve had a close family member pass from lung disease.”

Not only was it an opportunity to support a great cause, it also gave participants motivation to train in preparation for the climb. Team Climbatize prepared by walking up the stairs of Blue Cross’ 21-story Detroit headquarters, by climbing the 29-story Westin Book Cadillac Hotel and hitting the gym.

When her team reached the top of the Renaissance Center, Stocker said, “Everybody had a smile on their face, they all agreed it was a challenge and they were happy they did it.”

Each BCBSM team raised thousands of dollars for lung disease:

  • Team Climbatize $6,962.00
  • Team Stairway2Health $2,345.00
  • Team Ascent 2011 $2,022.25

Top five companies for Fight For Air Climb fundraising:

  1. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan $11,392.25
  2. Henry Ford Health System $10,855.00
  3. Macro Connect $2,414.99
  4. ImageSoft Inc. $2,170.00
  5. Moosejaw Mountaineering $2,161.11

Top five teams for Fight For Air Climb:

  1. Solar Stair Stars/Henry Ford Health Systems $10,855.00
  2. Climbatize $6,961.00
  3. Rockstairs $5,842.00
  4. ProQuest Pacers $4,809.00
  5. Rencensationals $4,531.01

For more information on the 2011 Fight For Air Climb, visit http://www.lungusa.org/donate/events/fight-for-air-climb/.

A Healthier Workforce Means a Healthier Business

Wellness programs are linked to greater productivity, less absenteeism and a reduction of long-term health care costs.  Whether you own a small family-run business or are the Chief Executive Officer of a large corporation, the health of your workforce is important.

Healthy Blue Incentives SM can help encourage your employees to adopt or sustain healthier lifestyles. This health plan combines a quality Blues PPO benefit package with our innovative wellness and care management program — BlueHealthConnectionSM. Healthy Blue Incentives is designed to help employees improve their health and productivity, and rewards them with lower out-of-pocket costs for achieving good health or actively participating in wellness activities.

Seventy percent of all health care costs are the direct result of behavior. Your Michigan Blues offers a variety of health plans that can help your employees adopt healthier behaviors. Healthier behaviors benefit your employees, your productivity and your bottom line.

 To learn more about healthy products with your Michigan Blues, visit http://www.bcbsm.com/healthyh2t/ or call your Blues account manager, contracted agent or sales representative.  

Blue Cross Blue Shield Of Michigan’s Financial Results Show Importance Of Investment Earnings To Nonprofit Health Insurance

The story-behind-the-story in today’s news that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan posted a 1-percent profit margin for 2010 is that none of our health plan’s $222 million in positive net income came from health insurance.

It came primarily from the company’s success as an investor.

More than $440 million in investment earnings put BCBSM — Michigan’s largest insurer — in the black for 2010. The gains did not come from health care premium “profits.” In fact, BCBSM lost $168 million on insurance in 2010.

BCBSM is conservatively invested — with 80 percent of our portfolio in fixed-income securities such as government bonds. Sound management, and changes in interest rates in 2010, maximized the performance of these investments and helped our portfolio achieve more than a 9 percent return.

As a nonprofit health plan, our aim is to help people be covered, and to better afford the cost of health care. Successful management of our sources of income — aside from health insurance premiums — can help us accomplish this on behalf of the 4.3 million Michiganders with Blue Cross cards in their pockets.

Our members expect BCBSM to be financially strong and stable. They also expect that we will provide affordable coverage. This is how we are able to provide the security they deserve.

Our financial results for 2010 offer proof of the critical role that investment earnings play in maintaining BCBSM’s financial strength. Unlike for-profit health insurers, BCBSM does not need to generate hefty profit margins to satisfy investors. We also have a mission to provide health care to all — and we extend coverage to anyone who needs it, regardless of pre-existing conditions or cost. We must maintain adequate revenue and reserves to fulfill this important role.

Insurance premiums did rise in 2010. But successful management of our investment portfolio helped offset our fifth consecutive annual underwriting loss without an over-reliance on premiums to make up the difference. In 2010, our investments gave us the stability to operate our business, the ability to provide comprehensive coverage to millions of residents and the financial strength to fulfill our unique mission.

These are important outcomes that make nonprofit health care possible, even as health care costs continue to increase.

Andrew Hetzel is vice president of Corporate Communications for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.