Building healthier communities
Aetna has been making a difference in communities across the country for many years through philanthropic and volunteer initiatives that exemplify the Aetna values in action. In 2008, Aetna employees logged more than 300,000 hours of community service, while Aetna and the Aetna Foundation contributed more than $25 million in grants and sponsorships. Of that total, $8 million was awarded through the Healthy Community Grants program for initiatives that are having an impact on the health of many Americans.
As part of this grants program, Aetna is committed to fighting cardiovascular disease by supporting in several markets the American Heart Association's Start! movement. Start! promotes physical activity in the workplace to help Americans lead longer, more healthful lives. Aetna and the Aetna Foundation have contributed $1.1 million to the movement so far.
Additionally, a $300,000 Aetna Foundation grant to the National Latino Children's Institute enabled continued implementation of Salsa, Sabor y Salud, a healthful lifestyles education program, targeting Latino communities in eight sites while providing advocacy in the areas of childhood obesity, nutrition, and physical fitness.
Improving access for all communities
Evidence shows that different racial and ethnic groups are at higher risk for certain diseases and conditions, yet these populations face real disparities in health care. Since 2002, we have been collecting racial and ethnic data on a voluntary, self-identified basis from our members to help us create more culturally focused disease management and wellness programs. At year-end 2008, more than 6.2 million members had voluntarily provided this information.
This data has been the foundation for a number of initiatives and studies such as a program to identify and address barriers to mammography screening for Latina and African American women. We also were the first national health insurance company to offer cultural competency training to its employees and require the training for our internal clinical staff. Since inception, 3,891 of Aetna’s clinical professionals have completed the training.
Funding for a wide range of initiatives is an important way to attack the disparities problem. Since 2001, Aetna and the Aetna Foundation have directed more than $24.5 million toward efforts to address racial and ethnic disparities in health care. Our efforts were recognized for the third consecutive year in 2008 by the National Committee for Quality Assurance with its “Recognizing Innovation in Multicultural Health Award.”
A greener world
Our commitment to a healthy environment has made the use of energy-saving devices and equipment a long-standing practice at Aetna; as are our paper, cardboard and bottle recycling programs. We, in fact, have recycled fluorescent lightbulbs since 1994, long before it was required. And, Aetna Specialty Pharmacy and Aetna Rx Home Delivery are working diligently to progressively conduct business in a more earth-friendly way by shipping temperature-sensitive medications in recyclable cooler boxes.
In 2008, approximately 490,000 orders were sent using these recyclable cooler boxes.
In 2008, we made some of our biggest strides ever in reducing our carbon footprint through our rapidly growing telework program. As a result, Aetna's teleworkers have reduced their driving by roughly 65 million miles, saving approximately 2 million gallons of gas and preventing almost 23,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year.
We also are committed to turning our Aetna-owned facilities green through the use of renewable resources and environmentally friendly practices. In 2008, we earned LEED® Silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council for the construction of our new Customer Center, located within our 78-year-old home office building. We also have undertaken the renovation of an adjacent 500,000-square-foot building that will be fitted with more than 1,000 solar panels and readied for LEED certification.