Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Betty Bogart, Student, Kaplan University, 1801 East Kimberly Road, Davenport IA 52807.
The Changing Face of Blue Cross Blue Shield
Since their founding as individual companies in the early 20th century, Blue Cross Blue Shield has grown to become one of the largest insurance companies in the United States. Blue Cross coverage for hospital care and Blue Shield coverage for physician visits grew to national coverage separately before merging to form the Association we know today.
In 1929 Justin Ford Kimball developed a program to cover teachers for hospital treatment. It guaranteed them 21 days of hospital care for $6 dollars per year. This program was later extended to encompass other employee groups first in Dallas then nationally. The program became Blue Cross. The first Blue Cross Baby was born in a hospital in Dunham, North Carolina. This was the first birth in America to be covered by a health insurance certificate that included maternity benefits. In 1939 the American Hospital Association adopted the Blue Cross symbol for plans meeting certain requirements. The ties with the AHA were severed in 1970.
In the early 20th century employers in mining and lumber camps of the Pacific Northwest developed a plan to cover employees by paying monthly fees to bureaus composed of groups of physicians. Officially the first Blue Shield Plan was implemented in California in 1939. The plan grew and was adopted by the Associated Medical Care Plan, a group of nine separate plans. Later the plan was renamed the National Association of Blue Shield Plans.
Both programs grew to national coverage as the need for medical insurance continued to grow with industry. The two companies merged to form Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association in 1982. At the time the company was defined as coverage under social welfare plans...