Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
|This article may rely excessively on sources too closely associated with the subject, potentially preventing the article from being verifiable and neutral. (June 2014)|
|Scott Serota , President and CEO|
Number of employees
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) is a federation of 36 separate United States health insurance organizations and companies, providing health insurance to more than 106 million Americans. Blue Cross was founded in 1929, and became the Blue Cross Association in 1960, while Blue Shield emerged in 1939 and the Blue Shield Association was created in 1948. The two organizations merged in 1982.
|Health care in the United States|
|Government Health Programs|
|Private health coverage|
|Health care reform law|
|State level reform|
|Municipal health coverage|
Blue Cross and Blue Shield developed separately, with Blue Cross plans providing coverage for hospital services and Blue Shield covering physicians' services.
Blue Cross is a name used by an association of health insurance plans throughout the United States. Its predecessor was developed by Justin Ford Kimball in 1929, while he was vice president of Baylor University's health care facilities in Dallas, Texas. The first plan guaranteed teachers 21 days of hospital care for $6 a year, was later extended to other employee groups in Dallas, and then nationally. The American Hospital Association (AHA) adopted the Blue Cross symbol in 1939 as the emblem for plans meeting certain standards. In 1960, the AHA commission was superseded by the Blue Cross Association. Blue Cross severed its ties with the AHA in 1972.
Blue Shield was developed by employers in lumber and mining camps of the Pacific Northwest to provide medical care by paying monthly fees to medical service bureaus composed of groups of physicians.[not in citation given] In 1939, the first official Blue Shield Plan was founded in California. In 1948, the symbol was informally adopted by nine plans called the Associated Medical Care Plan, and was later renamed the National Association of Blue Shield Plans.
In the 1960s the US government chose to partner with Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies to administer Medicare.
In 1982, Blue Shield merged with The Blue Cross Association to form the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBS).
Prior to 1986, organizations administering BCBS were tax exempt under 501(c)(4) as social welfare plans. However, the Tax Reform Act of 1986 revoked the exemption, because the plans sold commercial-type insurance. They became 501(m) organizations, subject to federal taxation, but entitled to "special tax benefits" under IRC 833.
In 1994, BCBS changed to allow its licensees to be for-profit corporations. During 2010, Health Care Service Corporation, the parent company of BCBS in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Montana and Illinois, nearly doubled its income to $1.09 billion in 2010, and began 4 years of billion-dollar profits. In the final spending bill for FY 2015 after much lobbying since 2010, nonprofit Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans continue to have special tax breaks that were understood to be threatened by the Affordable Care Act of 2010.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (August 2009)|
Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance companies are licensees, independent of the association and traditionally of each other, offering insurance plans within defined regions under one or both of the association's brands. Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers offer some form of health insurance coverage in every U.S. state. They also act as administrators of Medicare in many states or regions of the US and provide coverage to state government employees as well as to the federal government employees under a nationwide option of the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan.
The 14-state Anthem Inc is the largest Blue Cross Blue Shield plan, and is a publicly traded company. Other multi-state organizations include CareFirst in the Mid-Atlantic, The Regence Group in the Pacific Northwest, and Highmark which serves Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia. The largest non-investor owned member is Health Care Service Corporation, which operates five Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans in the Midwest and Southwest (Illinois, Oklahoma, Texas, Montana, and New Mexico).
Publicly traded companies
Multi-state private companies
Single-state or regional companies
Companies outside of the United States
Details on specific organizations
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BlueCross of Idaho and Regence BlueShield of Idaho are separate companies and compete head to head throughout the state.
Though historically "Blue Cross" was used for hospital coverage while "Blue Shield" was used for medical coverage, today that split only exists for traditional health insurance plans in eastern Pennsylvania, where Independence Blue Cross (Philadelphia) and Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania each have joint marketing agreements with Highmark Blue Shield (Pittsburgh) for their separate hospital and medical plans. However, Independence Blue Cross, like most of its sister Blue Cross-Blue Shield companies, cover most of their customers under managed care plans such as HMOs and PPOs which provide hospital and medical care in one policy.
Criticism and controversy
The Seattle Times published an article on February 9, 2012, alleging non-profit insurance outfits, including Premera Blue Cross, Regence BlueShield and Group Health Cooperative, are stockpiling billions of dollars in reserves while increasing their rates at the same time. Insurance companies do have statutory reserve requirements set by the states in which they operate, but the Seattle Times article cites Washington state insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler arguing that these companies have in excess of $1 billion more than needed to cover claims and disaster contingencies.
- BCBSA (n.d.). "Scott P. Serota. President and Chief Executive Office". BCBS.
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association – About Us
- Coordinated Issue Paper – Blue Cross Blue Shield/Health Insurance; Life Insurance: Conversion of nonprofit corporations. 4 June 2008)[dead link]
- Justin Ford Kimball from the Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved August 31, 2009.[dead link]
- Marc Lichtenstein (n.d.). "Health Insurance From Invention to Innovation: A History of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Companies". Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
- "History of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association – 1980s". Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.[dead link]
- "Nonprofit Health Inc.: Overview of issues in the protection of nonprofit assets - Blue Cross: 501(m)". Consumers Union. 1 January 2008. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
As of January 1, 1987, the federal government removed the full tax-exempt status of BCBS plans and instead created a special tax class for BCBS organizations, Internal Revenue Code ("I.R.C.") 5833. That I.R.C. category subjected BCBS plans to federal taxation but recognized the unique role BCBS plans play, unlike commercial for-profit insurers, and entitled it to special tax benefits.
- 26 USC § 833 – Treatment of Blue Cross and Blue Shield organizations, etc. | Title 26 – Internal Revenue Code | U.S. Code | LII / Legal Information Institute law.cornell.edu. Retrieved on 2013-09-05.
- "Blue Cross parent boosts profit in second quarter". Crain's Chicago Business. Crain Communication, Inc. 3 September 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
- Robert Pear (14 December 2014). New York Times "In Final Spending Bill, Salty Food and Belching Cows Are Winners". NY times. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
- Health Insurance Facts | Smarter Consumers of Healthcare. Health Harbor. Retrieved on 2013-09-05.
- United States Office of Personal Management, 2010 Nationwide Fee-for-Service Open to All
- "Contact Us." Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Retrieved on December 23, 2009.
- "Contact Us". anthem.com. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
- "Anthem Health Insurance, Medicare, and Group Health Plans". anthem.com. Very bottom of page. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
- "Florida Blue – New Name of BlueCross and BlueShield of Florida" (Press release). PRNewswire. April 2, 2012. Retrieved April 27, 2012.
- The Regence Group
- Ostrom, Carol M. (February 8, 2012). "3 Big Health Insurers Stockpile $2.4 Billion As Rates Keep Rising". The Seattle Times.
- Goodman, John C. (2008). "Health Insurance". In David R. Henderson (ed.). Concise Encyclopedia of Economics (2nd ed.). Indianapolis: Library of Economics and Liberty. ISBN 978-0865976658. OCLC 237794267.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.|
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of California official website
- Blue Cross Blue Shield Of Texas
- Voices of Oklahoma interview with Blue Cross Blue Shield. First person interview conducted on February 26, 2013 with Ron King and Ralph Rhodes. Original audio and transcript archived with Voices of Oklahoma oral history project.