Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Author:    Posted under: Health InsuranceHealth Insurance Types

One of the most recognized brands in the health insurance industry is the Blue Cross Blue Shield brand.  It’s also the largest, and the oldest family of health benefits companies in the United States, serving over a hundred million people in all regions of the country.

It was 1929, a time when any form of insurance was unheard of; Justin Ford Kimball had come up with a prepaid hospital plan in Baylor University in Dallas, Texas.  At that time, only 1,300 people were covered by this health plan, and in just ten years, it grew to three million people.  Ten years later, Carl Metzger commissioned the well-known insignia of the company: a combination of the US Army Medical Corp with a serpent.

During the World War II years, companies who wanted to compete for workers offered health insurance benefits.  By the 1950s, the spread of health insurance grew from ten percent of the population to nearly seventy percent.  The Federal Employees Health Benefits Act was also enacted by 1959, which, at the present year, covers over 4.8 million federal employees, retirees, and their families as well.

Soon thereafter, the Medicare and Medicaid programs were also created, and Blue Cross was responsible for processing claims for both federal institutions.

It was in 1982 that Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans were merged, forming the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA).  It is composed of separate insurance companies that act independently of each other, but adhere to the association’s guidelines.

At present, the BCBSA, known to be the federation of insurance companies, includes 39 plans in 50 states, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.   They reach about a hundred million people in all regions of the country, covering one in every three Americans.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield Insurance plans have many coverage options for employed, self-employed, and job-seeking individuals.   Among the types of plans they cover are the following:

Health Maintenance Organization – this type of plan lets you choose a doctor to be your primary physician, to take care of your health needs.

Preferred Provider Organization- this type of plan offers discounted rates if you avail of a doctor’s services under their contract.

Flexible Spending Account- this type of account uses money that has not been taxed to pay for health- related expense.  Funds for this come from employee’s salary.

Health Savings Account- this is a special tax-advantaged fund that members can use.  When the funds are used for medical expense, taxes are no longer applied.

Traditional Coverage- also known as indemnity insurance or fee-for-service plan.  You can avail the services of any practitioner, but additional benefits are available for those who select those from BCBSA.

International Plans- this type of plan is for the citizens of the South American countries of Uruguay and Panama.

Plans for Expatriates- this type of plan is especially for citizens who live outside of the United States.



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