Since its beginnings, Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) has shaped the healthcare industry through innovation and leadership. Today, BCBS continues to transform healthcare with the same spirit of innovation that has improved the lives of generations of Americans.

Blue Cross: Origins

Blue Cross began in 1929, as a partnership between a local hospital and its financially struggling patients. Baylor University hospital administrators were seeking a way to make healthcare more affordable for their patients, many of whom were Dallas public school teachers. The hospital administration started off with a plan for them to prepay 50 cents a month for up to 21 days of hospitalization annually. The Baylor Plan was an immediate success, soon enrolling employees in other professions across the city.

Blue Shield: Origins

Like the Baylor Plan, from which Blue Cross would evolve, the early forerunners of Blue Shield originated with America’s workers. Faced with rampant illness and occupational hazards, Pacific Northwest loggers and miners of the early 1900s required substantial medical care to stay healthy and productive. To meet this need, employers organized plans to provide medical services through individual practitioners or groups of physicians for a monthly fee.

Parallel Paths to the Same Goal

Through the 1930s and 1940s, Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s innovative approaches to healthcare options caught on across the country. Offering healthcare plans to more and more Americans, together Blue Cross and Blue Shield grew to encompass 81 hospital plans and 44 medical plans. The two companies began to unify in the 1940s, setting up agreements to ensure that the total 24 million members of both plans would have more comprehensive coverage nationwide.

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