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Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Insurance

Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Insurance is controlled by a federation comprising 35 different U.S. health insurance companies that provide insurance to over 106 million Americans. The conglomerate was formed in 1982 following the merger of the two namesakes: Blue Cross, which was founded in 1929, and Blue Shield, which emerged in 1939. 

Healthcare insurance insiders refer to the company as “The Association,” and it has two offices, one in Washington, D.C. and another in Chicago, IL. which is actually the main headquarters. The BCBSA controls access to all trademarks and names within the U.S. and also in over 170 different countries, which it licenses to affiliated companies for exclusive, specific geographical areas. 

Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Insurance is so common because it offers healthcare plans in every state across the nation, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. BCBS also takes part in the national health insurance program for employees of the U.S. government.

History of Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Insurance

As we mentioned, the organization we know as Blue Cross Blue Shield began as two separate entities that merged in 1982. Let’s take a brief look at how each company started: 

Blue Cross Origins

In 1929, Blue Cross began as a partnership between one local hospital and patients who were struggling financially. Administrators from Baylor University Hospital were looking for ways to make healthcare more affordable for people, many of whom were employed by the Dallas Public School District as teachers. 

The administration staff began with a plan that allowed these patients to prepay just 50 cents per month to cover hospitalizations up to 21 days each year. This plan was an instant success that soon started attracting employees from all professions. 

Blue Shield Origins

Similar to Baylor’s plan, from which Blue Cross evolved, Blue Shield also began by allying with America’s workforce. Faced with many occupational hazards and rampant illness, the miners and loggers of the Pacific Northwest during the early 1900s also required significant medical care to stay healthy, and thus, productive. 

Employers created plans to offer medical services through groups of physicians or individual doctors for a small monthly fee to meet these growing needs. 

Blue Cross Blue Shield Today

During the 1960s, the United States government decided to partner with Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies to manage Medicare. This system lasted until the two companies merged in 1982 to form the company that we know today. 

Blue Cross Blue Shield Affiliates

As discussed, BCBS operates via 35 independent companies that include: 

  • Anthem
  • Triple-S Management Corporation
  • CareFirst
  • Health Care Service Corporation
  • Highmark
  • Premera
  • Cambia Health Solutions
  • Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • And more!

The availability of these affiliates will depend on your geographical location. For example, Anthem is available in many states, including Colorado, Nevada, Maine, Missouri, etc. On the other hand, companies such as CareFirst only service people living in Maryland, Washington D.C., and portions of Virginia. 

Types of Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Insurance Offered

Today Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Insurance offers a variety of plans that span many different services for individuals, families, and businesses. Here is a look at what they offer: 

Dental Insurance

Dental insurance is the most affordable way to get preventative and regular coverage. BCBS’s dental insurance covers routine services and saves on the amount for which you are responsible. 

Here’s an overview of Blue Cross Blue Shield dental plans: 

  • DPPO: This plan offers the fewest limitations for choosing providers. However, in-network services will cost less out of your pocket. A DPPO does require copayments for procedures, a deductible to be reached, and it has a maximum. 
  • Fee For Service (Indemnity Plan): With this plan, you get access to many choices for dentists and cover the copay for treatment. Since the dentists are not reimbursed, there is an additional fee. 
  • HMO (Prepaid Plan): An HMO is very limited when it comes to picking doctors. You can choose one or a facility, but procedures done by those out of the network are not covered. The good thing about an HMO is that there are no maximum or copays for most visits. Though you will pay a copayment for certain procedures, others have no out-of-pocket costs. 
  • Discount Plans: These plans have no network limitations and only provide you with reduced fees for services that are covered completely out of pocket. Essentially, this plan gets you a discount on services as a cash-paying patient. 

Small Business Health Insurance

Blue Cross Blue Shield makes it easy to get small business health insurance plans. In fact, as a small business owner, getting health insurance through the company is usually more affordable than on your own. Perhaps the best part is that you only need one employee to qualify for a plan. Yet, keep in mind that you have to contribute toward your employee premiums and coverage is typically a guaranteed issue. 

Health Insurance for Individuals and Families

Families and individuals have three types of health insurance from which to choose. These options are: 

  • Affordable Care Act Plans: These plans have many names such as comprehensive coverage, major medical, or “Obamacare,” but the important thing is that they meet every requirement of the ACA and are generally the most inclusive on the market. 
  • Short-term Plans: Short-term plans are good for people who missed the cutoff or can’t afford an ACA plan. These usually tend to provide less coverage, but they are available all year and may help offset some of your costs. 
  • Medical Indemnity Plans: These plans are also called fee-for-service plans and allow you to pay a flat rate for doctors visits. For example, your rate is $50 per visit, so regardless of what services are provided, all you pay is $50. These plans are not for everyone but are helpful for some with covering medical expenses and costs. 

The Bottom Line

In the end, Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Insurance is some of the most popular and reliable in the country. No matter what type of health-related insurance you need, they have you covered!