Independence Blue Cross and Benefits Data Trust form first of its kind collaboration in Philadelphia region

Collaboration helps certain commercial members enroll in public benefit programs.

Originally published by Independence Blue Cross on June 6, 2024.

Philadelphia, PA (June 6, 2024)Independence Blue Cross (IBX) and Benefits Data Trust (BDT) announced that they formed the first collaboration of its kind in the Philadelphia region to help certain commercially insured members enroll in public benefit programs. These public benefit programs can help members pay for vital resources like food, childcare, health services, housing, and utilities. Despite the positive impact of these programs, many people aren’t aware of their eligibility, and the programs can be hard to apply to.  

BDT is a national nonprofit organization that helps eligible families and individuals connect to assistance programs.  They work with partners in government, health care, and other sectors to modernize the public benefits system. This allows more people to receive the vital assistance that can make a positive impact on their overall health and well-being. Their services are being offered to IBX fully insured commercial members who have pre-diabetes and have unmet health-related social needs such as food, financial, and/or housing insecurity.

IBX members can get help over the phone from trained benefits experts in BDT’s Pennsylvania Benefits Center to check if there are benefits that they may be eligible for. If eligible, they can submit their applications to programs that include, in part:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Senior Food Box Program
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • Childcare Works (CCW)
  • Property Tax & Rent Rebate (PTRR)
  • Homestead Exemption Program for Philadelphia residents

“Finding out whether you’re eligible for a government program and then trying to figure out how to enroll in it can be complicated and time-consuming. That’s why our collaboration with Benefits Data Trust is so critically important. It helps us connect our members with personal navigation to access essential resources that can improve their holistic well-being,” said Dr. Seun Ross, executive director of Health Equity at Independence Blue Cross. “We are committed to addressing the root causes of health inequities and creating healthier outcomes for every person in every community we serve. Working with Benefits Data Trust to address our members’ health-related social needs in this way helps us do just that.”

How it works

BDT and IBX collaborate to identify member data points that are most likely to indicate eligibility for a range of public benefit programs.  To do this they look at IBX’s claims data and its proprietary social barrier index. Using this data, they identify IBX fully insured members who have pre-diabetes and who may have unmet health-related social needs. BDT then outreaches to those members via mail to let them know they may be eligible for public benefit programs. Members who are interested in BDT’s services can call a dedicated phone line to be connected with a trained benefits expert at BDT’s Pennsylvania Benefits Center. IBX nurse case managers and social workers can also connect eligible members to BDT directly.

BDT makes learning about and applying to public benefit programs as easy as possible for IBX members. Their benefits experts provide efficient screening, application, and referral experience. BDT’s technology provides real-time estimates of an individual’s likely eligibility for multiple public benefits. It allows them to complete applications for multiple public benefit programs simultaneously, thereby streamlining the process for callers. Bilingual benefits experts are available for members who speak Spanish, and interpreters are on stand-by for 100 other languages.

The big picture

Insurer-initiated programs to increase access to these types of public benefit programs can improve members' health and well-being. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst, adults on both Medicare and Medicaid who were enrolled in SNAP continuously for 12 months showed a significant decrease in their overall health care and pharmacy costs. They experienced reductions of 16 percent and 21 percent, respectively, during the first year of SNAP participation, and 16 percent and 20 percent during the second year, compared to a similar group that was not enrolled in SNAP.

“Public assistance programs help people afford the basic needs that contribute in very real ways to their health and well-being,” said Trooper Sanders, CEO of Benefits Data Trust. "Ensuring all available safety net dollars help families pay for food, medication, and housing is a powerful lever to address persistent structural inequities that affect people struggling to make ends meet and people of color the most. We are proud to collaborate with a leader in health equity like Independence Blue Cross to connect the dots between public assistance programs and better health outcomes for Pennsylvanians.”

There are often many social barriers that prevent members from accessing the support they need to achieve better health outcomes. IBX and BDT are working together to help members access the benefits that are available to them so they can live their healthiest lives.    

About Benefits Data Trust  

Benefits Data Trust (BDT) improves health and financial security by harnessing the power of data, technology, and policy to provide dignified and equitable access to assistance. Together with a national network of government agencies and partners, we efficiently connect people today to programs that pay for food, healthcare, and more while helping to modernize benefits access for tomorrow. A nonprofit since 2005, BDT has secured more than $10 billion in benefits for households across the country, helping to reduce hunger and poverty and build pathways to economic mobility. Learn more at

About Independence Blue Cross

Independence Blue Cross is the leading health insurance organization in southeastern Pennsylvania. For more than 85 years, we have been enhancing the health and well-being of the people and communities we serve. We deliver innovative and competitively priced health care products and services; pioneer new ways to reward doctors, hospitals, and other health care professionals for coordinated, quality care; and support programs and events that promote wellness. To learn more, visit Connect with us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), LinkedIn, and Instagram. Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.