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As Biking Popularity Grows, so Must the Spotlight on Safety

Independence Blue Cross Offers Helmet Reimbursement for Safer Bicycling

PHILADELPHIA, June 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Biking has become a popular means of transportation, exercise, recreation, and sport in Philadelphia, where thousands of spectators are gearing up to watch the 2009 Philadelphia Cycling Championship, known to locals as the Manayunk Bike Race, this weekend. No doubt partially spurred by higher gas prices and an increasing focus on living "greener," biking's popularity has exploded in the city by more than 100 percent over the last three years, with Philadelphians making nearly 75,000 bicycle trips a day, according to the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia's 2008 report. Yet the same report estimates that only 31 percent of riders in Center City are wearing bike helmets.

Independence Blue Cross (IBC) encourages everyone in the community to wear helmets while biking. To stress the importance of safety and promote physical fitness, IBC offers each member of a family in its Healthy Lifestyles(R) program up to $25 toward the purchase of a bike helmet.

About 540,000 bicyclists across the country go to emergency rooms with injuries every year, according to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, and, of those, roughly 67,000 have head injuries.

"Our number one focus is wellness. We encourage our members to stay fit by staying active and bike riding is excellent exercise," said Dr. Es Nash, senior medical director at IBC. "We also promote safety and advise members to wear helmets. A fall off a bike on a city street, a trail path, or a suburban sidewalk can be dangerous, but a sturdy helmet lessens the risk of injury."

Dr. Nash added, "Too often, when I see families bike riding together, the kids are wearing helmets but the parents aren't! Parents, please - use our Healthy Lifestyles reimbursement to get a helmet so you're setting a good safety example for your children."

IBC encourages members purchasing bike helmets to be sure the product meets the Consumer Product Safety Commission standard or that it's certified by Snell Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit organization that, for over fifty years has been dedicated to research, education, testing and development of helmet safety standards. Eligible members may receive one helmet reimbursement per family member per year. To obtain reimbursement, an IBC member simply mails or faxes a copy of the helmet receipt and a completed reimbursement form to IBC within 90 days of purchase. Details are available on and

In addition to bike helmet reimbursements, IBC offers cash back for safety-related programs, including training in CPR, first-aid, and automated external defibrillator essentials. As part of its Healthy Lifestyles program, the company also offers reimbursements and discounts to reward members for making healthy choices, including joining a gym and going regularly and completing a smoking cessation or weight-loss program.

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 3.4 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 is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans. More information about Independence Blue Cross is available at

SOURCE Independence Blue Cross
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