Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska Centre at sunset.

Nebraskans Serving Nebraskans


To millions of Americans, Blue Cross and Blue Shield means peace of mind when it's needed the most. That's because the Blue Cross and Blue Shield brand represents the nation's largest and most experienced health care benefit companies.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield organization is not one single company, but rather a confederation of independent, community-based Plans, a concept that got its start in the early part of the last century.

Blue Cross Blue Shield history
The beginnings of Blue Cross

In the late 1920s, Justin Ford Kimball, an administrator at Baylor University in Texas, introduced a plan that guaranteed schoolteachers 21 days of hospital care for $6 a year. Additional groups of employees in Dallas joined the plan, and the idea quickly attracted nationwide attention. Soon other prepaid hospital plans were being implemented in other states.

In Nebraska, a handful of business leaders, physicians and hospital administrators established the Associated Hospital Service of Nebraska in January 1939, the beginning of what would become Blue Cross of Nebraska.

The blue cross symbol was officially adopted as the national emblem for these prepaid hospital plans in 1939.

The beginnings of Blue Shield

Blue Shield got its start a bit earlier than Blue Cross—around the turn of the 20th century. Lumber and mining camps in the Pacific Northwest wanted to provide medical care for their workers, so they paid monthly fees to "medical service bureaus," which were composed of groups of physicians. This eventually led to the first Blue Shield Plan, which was established in California in 1939. Nebraska’s Blue Shield Plan was launched in 1944.

Nebraska Blue Cross and Nebraska Blue Shield shared office space but were technically two separate companies until they merged in 1974. The national Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association was created in 1982.

This timeline provides you with some key dates from our 80-year history.

1939: A group of Omaha hospital administrators, physicians and business leaders meet to incorporate the Associated Hospital Service of Nebraska.

1943: The Nebraska Plan receives full approval from the American Hospital Association and the right to use the Blue Cross symbol.

1944: Six physicians organize the Nebraska Surgical Plan (later to become Blue Shield of Nebraska).

1946: Nebraska Blue Shield granted membership in the Associated Medical Care Plans, Inc., later changed to the National Association of Blue Shield Plans.

1948: Membership passes 100,000 mark. The organization moved from the First National Bank Building to office space on the 5th floor of the Kilpatrick Building.

1960: Nebraska Blue Cross joins the National Blue Cross Association.

1962: Walk-in customer service established to provide members a one-on-one experience to resolve claims issues or purchase policies that best suit their needs. Now also offering bilingual support for a diverse member population.

1965: The Federal Medicare Program is enacted. Nebraska Blue Cross named intermediary for the Part A (hospital) portion of the federal program. Also, a new system of electronic data processing equipment is installed to handle the complex and increasing volume of business.

1967: Nebraska Blue Cross experiences its greatest increase in history, serving more than 250,000 people in Nebraska and representing 100 percent of the eligible hospitals in the state. Also, the Depositor Program is introduced, enabling people not part of an employer group plan to enjoy the security of Blue Cross coverage.

Blue Cross building in 1948.

1968: Nebraska Blue Cross and Nebraska Blue Shield move into new Omaha building at 72nd Street and Mercy Road.

1975: Nebraska Blue Cross and Nebraska Blue Shield boards merge to form a single corporation, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE).

1987: BCBSNE becomes a mutual company, enabling us to offer a wider variety of products and services to customers. In addition, the PPO Nebraska provider network is introduced, representing all Nebraska hospitals and 95 percent of doctors across the state. 

Blue Cross Blue Shield in 1968

1997: BCBSNE adds a five-story building on the south side of its corporate headquarters.

2007: Highlighting its commitment to wellness, BCBSNE becomes the first insurance company in the state to earn Platinum Well Workplace Award from Wellness Council of America; honored again in 2010, 2013 and 2016.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association achieves 100 million member mark for combined membership.

2008: BCBSNE named Omaha’s Best Places to Work; honored again in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

2009: J.D. Power and Associates ranks BCBSNE "Highest Member Satisfaction among Health Plans in the Heartland Region" in the National Health Insurance Plan Study; achieved again in 2010 and 2011.

2010: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the health care reform bill, is signed into law, altering the future of health care delivery and the health insurance industry.

Blue Cross Blue Shield 1992

2011: BCBSNE moves to its new leased facility in the Aksarben Village development.

2012: Member website, myBlue, launches allowing members to manage their health insurance, view claims and practice wise consumerism by shopping for procedures by facility.

2014: BCBSNE celebrates 75 years of Nebraskans serving Nebraskans. BCBSNE is also voted Best of Omaha by Omaha Magazine readers for the fourth consecutive year. BCBSNE is honored with Better Business Bureau Integrity Award as a three-time recipient.

2015: BCBSNE is recognized by Nebraska Health and Human Services for supporting new mothers back to work. In addition, the Think Whole Person Healthcare clinic opens.

2016: The Wellness Council of America awards BCBSNE its prestigious Platinum Well Workplace honor for the fourth consecutive time. The Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce inducts CEO Steve Martin into the Business Hall of Fame for his contributions to the region's growth and welfare.

2017: BCBSNE receives the Greater Omaha Business Excellence Award and is honored by ServeNebraska with the Corporate Community Volunteer Award. In addition, the Governor's Wellness Award is presented to BCBSNE for outstanding employee health and wellness programs. Nurture Health, a direct primary care clinic, is also launched.

2018: BCBSNE becomes a mutual insurance holding company called GoodLife Partners, Inc. on July 1, 2018.

2023: Jeff Russell is named the new President and CEO.

Today, we continue to give back across the state through volunteering and our corporate social responsibility efforts. We are proud to be champions for the health and well-being of our members and the communities we serve. 

Blue Cross Blue Shield 2011