Blue Cross Blue Shield

Blue Cross Blue Shield is a registered trademark of Blue Cross Blue Shield. Blue Cross Blue Shield is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse or sponsor, the contents of this webpage or the website. Trademarks referring to specific providers are used by for nominative purposes only: to truthfully identify the source of the products about which information is provided. Such trademarks are solely the property of their respective owners.
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is known in some areas as BCBSA. This group currently covers over 97 million Americans every year and is made up of 39 community-based groups that provide independent and locally operated health care coverage to those enrolled.


History Of Blue Cross Blue Shield

Baylor University is located in Waco, Texas, and in 1929 they officially named Justin Ford Kimball as their vice president. This man headed up the Baylor College of Medicine, the School of Nursing, the College of Dentistry, and the University Hospital. Kimball did quite a bit for the school, but one of his greatest feats was setting up a health plan for teachers that guaranteed them 21 days of hospital care for a $6 annual fee. Before long, other groups in the Dallas area were allowed to join the group plan, and others across the country began creating their own health plans, which they modeled after his ideas.

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Many people know Blue Cross Blue Shield for the cross symbol they use, and this was first seen in 1934 when the Hospital Service Association ran an advertisement. Today, that company is known as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota. The secretary of the company, E.A. van Steenwyk, asked a Viennese artist by the name of Joseph Binder to incorporate the Greek blue cross into a poster he designed for the company. Van Steenwyk used this cross as a way to identify the plans unique to the company, but the same design quickly spread to other branches of the company.

In 1939, the American Hospital Association in Chicago used the blue cross symbol to differentiate between different health care plans the company offered. This same group would continue to use the cross until it became affiliated with the Blue Cross Association in 1960. Those two organizations continued to work together until 1972.

In the Pacific Northwest, mining and lumber camps were seeking health care under a different plan. This plan was becoming quite popular at the same time that Kimball was gaining a reputation in Texas. One plan, formed in 1917, was known as the Pierce County Medical Bureau. Today, that plan is known as Regence Blue Shield, and operates out of Tacoma, Washington as part of the Regence Group. Customers could pay a monthly fee and gain access to a medical plan that allowed them to seek help from a group of physicians working with the company.

Carl Metzger, working in Buffalo, New York, created the first symbol for Blue Cross Blue Shield in 1939. In that same year, the first Blue Shield plan was offered in California. Nine plans working under the Associated Medical Care Plans adopted the shield as their informal symbol in 1948, and this group would later rename themselves the National Association of Blue Shield Plans.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Organization

There is one major association with different, independent franchises working under it that make up the Blue Cross Blue Shield companies. Companies can choose to act as one of the brands, either Blue Cross or Blue Shield, or both, and offer insurance plans in different parts of the country. Blue Cross Blue Shield also allows providers to offer a type of insurance in each of the 50 US states. There are also regions of the US where providers can serve as Medicare administrators, though they are often found as group health care providers. They offer coverage to state employees and the US Federal Government. Government employees can seek coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan. This nationwide organization is associated with both the US Federal Government and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield groups have a strong connection with policy makers in the US Government who determine health insurance plans and policies.

In the past, Blue Cross was meant to cover hospital care, while Blue Shield covered medical care. Today, that only applies in areas such as eastern Pennsylvania. Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia and Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania work with Highmark Blue Shield in Pittsburgh to provide separate plans for hospital and medical care. Those who need medical care and hospital care in one policy can seek out a managed health care plan like an HMO or PPO by using one of the plans from Independence Blue Cross.

Many areas of the US use a Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan that uses one insurer to operate, including western Pennsylvania. Central Pennsylvania, California, and other parts of the US use one of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield brands that are part of a competing insurer.

In Idaho, Blue Cross Blue Shield competes with Regence Blue Shield of Idaho, though they continue to use both the Blue Shield logo as well as the Blue Cross logo. There are many states where the two groups have combined to better fit the needs of the state. There are a handful of non-profit organizations that administer those health insurance plans, though there are some companies working to make a profit. According to the Tax Reform Act of 1986, all Blue Cross Blue Shield plans have to pay a federal income tax. If the plan is non profit on the state level though, taxes may be different.

The Wellpoint Company, a publicly traded group, is the largest member of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Insurance, with coverage in 14 states. CareFirst, serving the Mid-Atlantic Region, and the Regence Group with coverage in the Pacific Northwest, are two other organizations with ties to the group that covers multiple states. The Health Care Service Company, which has Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in the Southwest and Midwest, is the largest member of the group that is not owned by investors.

More About Blue Cross Blue Shield

In over 170 countries, there are Blue Cross Blue Shield brands registered and recognized. The 39 member companies of Blue Cross Blue Shield have provided excellent health insurance at affordable costs for over 70 years now.

The member companies of Blue Cross Blue Shield are known as one of the oldest companies to provide quality health insurance for families, as well as one of the largest. They also remain one of the best known and most recognizable providers of health insurance in the industry.

There are offices of Blue Cross Blue Shield in Washington DC, though their headquarters are based in Chicago. They are listed as one of the top 20 companies in the US that employ the most people, and they employ nearly 900 people every year. Over 99 million people seek insurance from Blue Cross and Blue Shield, meaning that those 39 member companies actually provide coverage for one out of every three Americans.

Blue Cross Blue Shield companies have more contracts with health care providers and hospitals than any other health care insurer working in the US: 90 percent of all hospitals and 80 percent of all doctors have contracts with the companies. Individuals, small businesses, large companies, and large groups of employees can seek health insurance from Blue Cross Blue Shield. The company provides a number of products to fit any situation.