Health Care Service Corporation: Sustainability Plan

Subject: Case Studies
Pages: 12
Words: 2745
Reading time:
10 min
Study level: PhD

The Insurance Industry

Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) is a corporate body that operates several health insurance firms in the United States. HCSC controls the operations of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans of Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas (HCSC, 2011). HCSC is the fourth largest insurance corporation in the USA. It is also the largest non-investor insurance in the country. The fact that HSCS is a non-investor-owned company has played a crucial role in the success that the company has been experiencing since its incorporation. This is because the company is owned by its customers and not shareholders. As a result, the company works to achieve the needs and requirements of its customers and not that of its shareholders. The operations of companies that are owned by shareholders are normally conducted to suit their needs and not the needs of other stakeholders.

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Health Care Service Corporation was founded in 1936. Its original name was Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans of Illinois. This corporation was started after the great economic depression of Chicago in 1930 (HCSC, 2011). This made individuals spend most of their finances to treat their family members. Due to the depression, treating simple illnesses was expensive and as a result, many individuals spent most of their savings on healthcare. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans of Illinois were determined to reduce the cost of health care. It offered comprehensive health cover to its clients by covering all of their medical expenses. In the year 1998, the company merged with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico in the year 2005 (Hannagnan, 2007).

HCSC recognizes that its operations, the community, and clients that it serves, and the economy in which it operates are part and parcel of the world. The world in general is made up of many resources. These resources could either be natural or artificial, renewable or non-renewable. As an organization, HCSC is dependent on several natural resources in its operations. The papers that are used to record information come from trees, the power that it uses is generated from natural resources such as fossil fuels, and the well-being of the community that it serves mainly rely on natural resources for their survival.

At the present moment, there are no environmental laws that affect the operations of the company. However, sustainability is one of the key goals that the organization would want to achieve. It should be noted that all aspects of sustainability are dependent on one another. Therefore, HCSC wants to achieve economic, social, and environmental sustainability. To achieve this, the company has implemented several strategies. Specifically, the organization is advocating for the environmental sustainability of the world. To achieve this, the company has several projects that aim at reducing environmental degradation hence ensuring the sustainability of the environment. The company uses efficient fluorescent bulbs for lighting, advanced technology for heating and cooling its facilities, recycles aluminum cans and plastic bottles, and has a bird awareness program that prevents them from crashing into their buildings.

With regards to the environment, HCSC has come up with an environmentally sustainable program called Blue Goes Green (HCSC, 2011). In this project, the company has advocated for the paper recycling program. With this program, the company advocates for the recycling of the paper that it uses into other useful products. The company has also advocated for the use of paperless communication among its employees and with its customers. With this project, the company has saved approximately 7 million pieces of paper annually (this translates to about 90 trees a year) (HCSC, 2011). However, if all the members of the organization enroll in the project, a total of 22 million pieces of paper shall be saved annually (this amounts to over 300 trees). This project thus shows the involvement of the corporation in environmental sustainability.

Sustainability Plan

For HCSC to be sustainable, it needs to ensure that there is wise utilization of social, environmental, and economic resources in the present generation (Gitman and McDaniels, 2008). This will ensure that the individuals of the present generation utilize these resources in a manner that will not compromise the utilization by the individuals of future generations (Kaplan and Norton, 2006). To achieve this goal, HCSC needs to be a sustainable organization. A sustainable organization is an organization that has the capability of enduring internal and external pressures of culture with the aid of innovation and changes in organization structure to deliver or achieve specific goals and objectives that will ensure its long-term viability (Esty and Harry, 2009). Organizations can achieve this by modifying their organizational structure, culture, operations, and activities.

Being an insurance company HCSC operates in an environment that requires the economy, the society, and the environment to be stable. If the economy is not doing well, it will be difficult for HCSC clients to afford the various health covers that the organization offers. In addition, the operational costs of the organizations will be so high that the company will only be operating in losses. Society also needs to be stable socially and politically. This will guarantee that it has a favorable environment to operate in. Finally, the environment should also be stable. All the factors of life depend on the well-being of the environment. It is through the increased pollution and decrease in natural resources that the world is facing a lot of problems. This ranges from an increase in prices of goods and services, climate change, and scarcity of resources (such as food, land, and water). The instability of the three factors that have been mentioned in this segment has made life to be difficult for man. Due to climate change, for example, there have been unpredictable weather patterns characterized by floods, droughts, increased partial temperatures, and so on. These factors have negatively affected the health of individuals. To achieve the above goals, I would recommend that HCSC modifies its operations, the products, and services that it offers and enlighten its stakeholders on environmental issues.

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Purchasing Activities

HCSC needs to modify its purchasing and vending activities. The main goal for changing the purchasing activities of the organization is to ensure that HCSC purchases products that are friendly to the environment. This will be in line with the overall goal of the organization of attaining environmental sustainability. The products that the organization will be purchasing or selling should be friendly to the environment. For instance, HCSC has been purchasing highly efficient fluorescent tubes. These tubes do not use a lot of power and yet they give a better quality of light as compared to other fluorescent tubes that are present in the market. HCSC, therefore, needs to purchase products that are friendlier to the environment. These products should aim at reducing the consumption of power and water and also reduce waste accumulation. These products should therefore be power efficient, biodegradable, and release minimal emissions to the atmosphere.

Waste Consciousness

HCSC should also be an organization that is waste-conscious. This recommendation is in line with the organizations goal of having a clean environment. To achieve this objective, the organization needs to formulate and implement waste management programs. Waste accumulation has been a major problem that has negatively affected the environment. Through waste accumulation, the rates of environmental pollution increase, groundwater, and surface water become contaminated and wastes attract rodents and scavengers that make social life to be difficult. HCSC should therefore formulate and implement waste disposal and recycling programs within the organization and pass the same practices to its stakeholders. These practices should aim at improving paper and plastic use, disposal, and recycling to reduce the number of wastes that come about as a result of the utilization of these resources. In addition, the organization should reduce their carbon emissions and the emission of other greenhouse gasses. The organization should therefore use alternative sources of energy to power up its systems. Solar energy is by far the best energy source that I may advocate the organization to use. This source of energy is cheap, easy to harness, and efficient. The organization should also use hybrid cars that use alternative sources of energy such as electricity and hydrogen. Toyota Prius is one of the automobiles in the American market that fits this description. The car can use either electricity or fossil fuel. However, its carbon emission is reduced by almost 75% (Miner, 2007). The car also utilizes gasoline efficiently as compared to other cars. It also has a good sitting capacity thus will reduce traffic congestion.

Products and Services

HCSC products and services should also be in line with the environmental sustainability goals and objectives of the organization. To influence the behavior of its clients, HCSC should impose sustainability practices into its products. Health covers, for example, should have favorable rates for those individuals who are engaged in environmental issues. There should also be special bonuses for the clients who will be involved in some of the initiatives which the organization has spearheaded or is a part of. To enjoy these offers, most clients will engage themselves in environmental practices that will tend to improve the sustainability of the environment. HCSC should also come up with educational programs that aim at creating environmental awareness for its clients. This will increase their overall participation in environmental issues.

Creation of Environmental Awareness

HCSC should come up with means through which they will enlighten their stakeholders on environmental sustainability. The organization should work with its stakeholders and the community to ensure that the environment and its resources are utilized effectively and sustainably. The organization should also collaborate with other institutions such as the government, non-governmental organizations, educational institutions, and local groups. Working together as a team will make it easier for the organization to achieve its goals and organization on environmental sustainability.

Management Tools Required

To implement the above recommendations, HCSC needs to use several management tools. First, the organization needs to modify its organizational culture. In management, organization culture is the attitude, beliefs, psychology, and behavior which an organization believes is best suited to follow to accomplish its goals (Human Resources, 2011). It is through this culture that an organization develops methods and procedures that enable it to deal with its members of staff, stakeholders, and other interested parties in general (Human Resources, 2011). HCSC should therefore adopt an organizational culture that aims at achieving environmental sustainability. To achieve this goal, all the employees and other stakeholders of the organization should be aware of the current environmental issues that the world is facing. They should therefore have the desire to work together to ensure that these problems are solved and environmental sustainability is achieved. It is the role of the management to ensure that all the employees of the organization together with other stakeholders are working towards achieving this cause (Esty and Harry, 2009).

HCFC also needs to modify its values, vision statement, and vision statement to implement the above recommendations. The values of an organization affect how an organization operates. Since HCSC is transforming itself to become an environmental sensitive organization, it needs to transform its values to be in line with this course. Initially, the values of HCSC aimed at attaining profitability and social stability through offering effective health cover (McGinnis, 2008). Now, the organization should incorporate environmental sustainability in its operations. This should be reflected through its operations and activities. A mission statement is essential since it defines an organization, its objectives, and the means through which it wants to achieve these objectives. A vision statement on the other hand is used to show the desired future status of the organization. Since HCSC wants to achieve environmental sustainability, it needs to modify its vision and mission statements to reflect this course. This will ensure that the short-term and long-term goals and objectives are in line with these goals.

Strategic planning is also another tool that can be used to implement the above recommendations and achieve the desired results. Through strategic planning, an organization has the opportunity of determining what it should become. It also proposes the best method that it can use to achieve this. This is because strategic plans are essential tools to set goals and objectives, formulating means to achieve them and measuring the progress that an organization is making towards achieving this. Through strategic planning, HCSC can transform itself and become the leading health insurance firm that advocates for environmental sustainability in the United States and the world in general. HCSC should have a series of short-term plans that aim at increasing environmental awareness and improving the overall status of the environment through a variety of programs. To achieve this goal, HCSC needs to utilize all the resources and capabilities that it has. The strategic plan that HCSC should undertake should be in line with the vision and mission statement of the organization, the goals, and objectives, values of the organization. This plan should also work on capitalizing on the strengths of the organization and improving on its weaknesses to achieve environmental sustainability.

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It will be very difficult for HCSC to effectively implement the above recommendation on its own. The organization needs to form partnerships and alliances with other organizations. This is because it is through teamwork that individuals or organizations easily achieve set goals and objectives. HCSC, therefore, needs to partner up with the local community and other institutions. Through these alliances, member groups can contribute their resources, skills, and expertise that will ensure that natural resources are used effectively and efficiently. In addition, these organizations will come up with strategies and methods that will reduce the negative influence that man has on the environment. This includes protection of endangered species, use of alternative sources of energy that are environment friendly, formulation of proper waste management practices, and community empowerment through environmental education. Since these organizations have similar goals and objectives, working together as a team will ensure that these goals are achieved easily and efficiently. This will in turn ensure that environmental sustainability is achieved and HCSC is a sustainable organization.

Barriers to Implementation and Strategies to Overcome Them

Being an insurance company, HCSC does not have qualified personnel in the field of environmental education and sustainability. It will therefore be difficult for the organization to formulate policies and strategies that will enable it to achieve environmental sustainability. In addition, the organization will find it difficult to formulate environmental education programs that are necessary to create awareness and empower its stakeholders to achieve its goal of environmental sustainability. To overcome this obstacle, HCSC needs to form alliances with organizations that have the manpower, expertise, and resources that are required for environmental education and empowerment. Experts from such organizations will also be useful in assisting HCSC to formulate the goals and objectives that will lead to environmental sustainability.

The process of achieving environmental sustainability is very costly. It requires finance to get resources and facilities, to pay personnel, to undertake research, and so on. Most of these financial requirements will be difficult for HCSC to meet. This is because the organization already has other projects at hand that require financial assistance. Some of these projects are essential in ensuring that the organization achieves its short-term and long-term goals and objectives. If HCSC invests its finances in the environmental sustainability project, it will compromise the other projects that it has. To overcome this problem, HCSC should include the environmental sustainability project in its annual budget and allocate a good amount of money to the venture. The organization should also come up with alternative avenues to fund the project. This may include donations from well-wishers, forming alliances with other institutions and sharing the budget, organizing charitable promotions, and so on. This will ensure that the project is well funded.

Finally, there will be a lot of political opposition against the project. Many organizations and firms that were benefiting from the activities that the HCSC is advocating against will lobby against it. This may bring about mixed reactions from the stakeholders, especially community members. To solve this issue, HCSC in conjunction with its partners should ensure that proper environmental education is provided to the stakeholders. This will ensure that they have a clear understanding of the environmental problems that the world is facing at the present moment. With this knowledge and the skills that they have gained, these individuals will have a better chance of understanding their role in the process of achieving environmental sustainability.

References

  1. Esty, D and Harry, S. (2009). Green to Gold. Yale: Yale University Press Gitman, L. and McDaniels, C. (2008). The Future of Business. Dallas:Cengage Learning
  2. Hannagnan, T. (2007). Management: Concepts and Practices. London: Prentice Hall.
  3. HCSC (2011). About Us. Health Care Service Corporation. 
  4. Human Resources (2011). Team Building and Empowerment. Human Resources. Web.
  5. Kaplan, R.S. and Norton, D.P. (2006). How to Implement a New Strategy without Disrupting Your Organization. Harvard Business Review, 84 (3), 100-109.
  6. McGinnis, S. (2008). Organization Behavior and Management Thinking: Key Topics in Organizational Behavior. New Jersey: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
  7. Miner, J. (2007). Organization Behavior: Theory and Practice. Kingston: M.E Sharpe Publishers.