Our History

  • The Premera Blue Cross story

    Blue Cross Plan is born in Dallas

    The nationwide Blue Cross organization can be traced to a hospital prepayment plan for schoolteachers. Justin Ford Kimball started the plan in 1929 for the Baylor University Hospital in Dallas. For a prepayment of 50 cents a month, the plan provided 21 days of hospitalization in a semi-private room.

    Plans began forming across the country, each associated with a single hospital. By 1932, community-wide Plans emerged, offering subscribers a choice of hospitals. In 1933, the American Hospital Association began to encourage the development of such Plans and began to regulate and approve them. The same year, the Plan in St. Paul, Minnesota, began using a blue cross, which was officially adopted by the American Hospital Association in 1939.

    On June 30, 1972, ownership of the Blue Cross symbol and name passed to the Blue Cross Association. On Feb. 27, 1973, a new symbol was introduced: a blue Greek cross with a stylized human figure in its center.

    Blue Cross comes to Pacific Northwest in 1945

    Our company was incorporated as a healthcare service contractor on May 5, 1945, when it was known as Washington Hospital Service. On July 8, 1948, the original certificate of registration was issued by the State Insurance Commissioner and authorized the acceptance of prepayment for healthcare benefits.

    Our Alaska plan has a proud history of service and support in Alaska since 1952.

    On March 14, 1969, we changed our name to Blue Cross of Washington and Alaska.

    MSC becomes a new partner in 1994

    In 1994, Blue Cross of Washington and Alaska affiliated with Medical Service Corporation (MSC) in Spokane, the Blue Shield plan serving Eastern Washington. This partnership was formed to strengthen our companies while still offering local service to the communities where we work and live.

    MSC's roots go back to November 1933, when the nonprofit Spokane Medical Service Bureau and the Medical Service Corporation were founded, enabling people to afford quality healthcare.

    The original coverage offered was limited to groups of 25 or more, each earning less than $150 per month. The health plan bill was $1 per month and included doctor and hospital services and prescription drug benefits. Keep in mind that in 1933, doctor visits were $2, hospital charges ran $2.75 per day, and a tonsillectomy might have cost $12.50.

    Name changes to Premera Blue Cross after 1998 merger

    In June 1998, Blue Cross of Washington and Alaska merged with Medical Service Corporation (MSC) and changed its name to Premera Blue Cross. In eastern Washington, the company known as MSC incorporated as Premera Blue Cross.

    In June 2002, Premera introduced an evolutionary approach to health plans called Dimensions. Encompassing a new business model, a new portfolio of consumer-friendly products, simplified operations and fresh technology, Dimensions re-ignited collaboration between our company and providers that helps doctors reduce variations from best practices that add costs without improving care.

    Also in June 2002, MSC incorporated as Premera Blue Cross, and was renamed Premera Blue Cross to better emphasize our statewide presence in Washington and reduce confusion among members, physicians and other providers. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska was renamed Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska to emphasize the plan's connection with the Premera family of health plans.

    Quality Score Card

    When Premera launched its innovative Quality Score Card (QSC) in 2004, it was the first statewide, collaboratively produced website where the public could review physicians' clinical performance in key areas of healthcare - and one of the first in the nation. In addition to providing quality measurement results for participating regional medical groups, the QSC offered practical information and resources to guide healthcare decisions.

    This initiative demonstrates Premera's collaborative approach to working with providers and our longstanding commitment to transparency, national best practices and continuous improvement in healthcare quality.

    Premera Blue Cross is here and with you meeting the healthcare coverage needs of nearly 2 million members.