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Why I Chose Blue Shield of California

BY RADHIKA KAPOOR – The opportunity to contribute to making health care affordable for all Californians resonates with me. I was born and raised in India, where health care is a luxury for a large segment of the population. According to a 2010 World Bank estimate, India loses 6 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) annually because of premature deaths and preventable illnesses. In fact, 63 million people in India are faced with poverty every year due to "catastrophic" spending on health care.

A key reason for poor health of Indians is the high proportion of out-of-pocket spending because of low insurance coverage and weak public health systems, forcing the poor to visit private medical practitioners they struggle to afford. High health care costs often lead people to delay treatment, further aggravating health problems. The lack of affordable care in India makes me appreciate what Blue Shield does here in California.

In the United States, the Affordable Care Act has had a visible impact in just a couple of years. The entire healthcare industry is at an important and exciting juncture, where access to affordable, high-quality health care is now available to millions of previously uninsured Americans. It’s a great time to work in healthcare and that’s why I chose to intern at Blue Shield of California as the company’s first Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Climate Corps Fellow.

My role is to support Blue Shield’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goal to strengthen its sustainability practice while contributing to Blue Shield’s mission of providing access to quality care at an affordable price. While I have been a sustainability consultant to various Fortune 500 companies before, working with Blue Shield has been personally rewarding, as I am able to implement renewable energy and energy efficiency measures with clear business cases. For example, replacing 140 halogen spot reflectors at the company’s headquarters will save Blue Shield $50,000 over the next six years. Sustainability efforts like these – when implemented across all facilities – will help Blue Shield achieve its larger goal of providing quality health care at an affordable price. At the same time, it will build the company’s brand equity as a socially responsible enterprise.

Beyond the opportunity to do meaningful work, I also respect the company’s diversity and culture and am fortunate to interact with such a talented pool of individuals. This internship is a great platform to apply in practice what I have learned through my coursework at Stanford University over the past nine months. Blue Shield has increased my motivation to work towards something I truly believe in: affordable health care for all.

Radhika Kapoor was an intern at Blue Shield of California as the company’s first Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Climate Corps Fellow.