The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) is a corporation of 39 community-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. They have an enviable track record of having served millions of families with high class and yet affordable health care insurance. BCBS Brands are renowned and one of the leaders in the health insurance industry. They are the pioneers and largest family of health benefits companies with more than 800 employees. Their healthcare coverage is widespread and available in all the 50 states, the District of Columbia and in Puerto Rico. In view of their large-scale operations, almost all hospitals and nearly 80% of the physicians are contracted by BCBS.
BCBS provides a assortment of healthcare insurance to cater a large corporations, medium and small business houses and even individuals. BCBS has grown rapidly and are today registered in about 175 countries. Based in Chicago, Illinois, BCBS was the result of merger between Blue Cross Association and the National Association of Blue Shield in 1982. Prior to the historic merger, the two companies that were created around the same time in two different parts of the U.S were leaders in healthcare insurance. The evolution and growth of the concept of managed healthcare system in the United States is largely, if not solely, due to Blue Cross-Blue Shield plans.
In 1939, the Chicago-based American Hospital Association (AHA) was the first one to use the Blue Cross as a symbol to signify that health plans across the country met certain prescribed norms. The AHA continued to use of this now renowned symbol until the Blue Cross Association was founded in 1960. Meantime, the
first official Blue Shield plan was founded in California in 1939. It was in 1948 the symbol was informally adopted by the Associated Medical Care Plans, which was later renamed the National Association of Blue Shield Plans.
Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance companies offer insurance plans under either or both the brands. Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurers offer some form of health insurance coverage in practically every state in USA. They are providing group coverage to state government employees, as well as the U.S. Federal government employees under a nationwide program of the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan (FEHBP) established by the association on their behalf.
Traditionally the Blue Cross symbol was used for hospital treatment while the Blue Shield for medical coverage. But today the two organizations have become homogeneous and the dichotomy exists in only in eastern Pennsylvania. Otherwise in throughout the country only one insurer operates under both
brands in all places… Both brand names are used by both the associations and its member insurers, though some members prefer one form or the other.
The 14-state WellPoint is the largest Blue Cross-Blue Shield member, and it is a public limited company. Other notable multi-state organizations are CareFirst in the Mid-Atlantic and The Regence Group in the Pacific Northwest.
There is the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation on Health Care which is a non-profit making association. The Foundation is a centralized body that coordinates national multi-site health services research.
The Foundation is rendering affordable service and contributing to the public good by focusing on population-based studies as an effective way to influence health outcomes, health policy and the quality of health services and delivery. Working in tandem with many academic institutions and government agencies, the Foundation facilitates national research that provides solutions to relevant health care issues.
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