Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska Centre at sunset.

Nebraskans Serving Nebraskans

History

To millions of Americans, Blue Cross and Blue Shield represents 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, had introduced a plan that guaranteed schoolteachers 21 days of hospital care for $6 a year. Other 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 got 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. 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.

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.

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

1974: Nebraska Blue Cross and Nebraska Blue Shield boards merge to form a single corporation. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE).

1987: BCBSNE earns Platinum Well Workplace Award from Wellness Council of America; honored again in 2010. As a result of growth in membership and diversity, BCBSNE now offers multicultural member services. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association achieves 100 million member mark for combined memberships. 

1997: BCBSNE earns Platinum Well Workplace Award from Wellness Council of America; honored again in 2010. As a result of growth in membership and diversity, BCBSNE now offers multicultural member services. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association achieves 100 million member mark for combined memberships.

2007: The Nebraska Plan receives full approval from the AmeBCBSNE earns Platinum Well Workplace Award from Wellness Council of America; honored again in 2010. As a result of growth in membership and diversity, BCBSNE now offers multicultural member services. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association achieves 100 million member mark for combined memberships.

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

2010: The Nebraska Plan receives full approval from the American Hospital Association and the right to use the Blue Cross symbol.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.

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

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

2013: As technology expands, BCBSNE communicates with members in new and innovative ways. Find BCBSNE now on Facebook and Twitter.

2014: BCBSNE celebrates 75 years of Nebraskans serving Nebraskans. From the smallest towns to the largest cities – in person, on the phone, over the internet, through mailings, social media updates and town halls, BCBSNE provides members with unparalleled services and support. Every single one matters. Today, we continue to support our mission to lead the way in supporting patient-focused care and help create a health care world without confusion that adds more good years to peoples' lives.

Today, we continue to be an active member of the communities that our customers live and work by giving back through volunteering and our Corporate Social Responsibility efforts. And as we look to the future, we know that innovation, collaboration and trust are keys to helping us continue to create a health care world without confusion for the next generation.