A Legacy of Innovation
Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) is a pioneer in affordable health care insurance, having developed the first hospital care prepayment plan in the world.
The company’s origins can be traced back to 1929 when Justin Ford Kimball, a vice president at the Baylor University School of Medicine in Texas, developed the first model for affordable health care insurance. At the height of the Great Depression, a group of Chicago civic leaders, hospital officials, and physicians adopted Kimball’s model and in 1936, they launched what was initially called the Chicago Plan for Hospital Care. The company’s first health insurance policy became effective on January 21, 1937.
The concept of prepayment for hospital care caught on quickly in Chicago. The company, which was incorporated as Hospital Service Corporation, grew rapidly, enrolling 36,000 members in just the first six months of operations. The company adopted the Blue Cross symbol in 1939 and the Blue Shield symbol in 1947.
The Blue Cross Plan for hospital services and the Blue Shield Plan for physician services operated separately until 1975 when they were merged as Health Care Service Corporation. By 1982, all the smaller Blue Cross Plans in Illinois were also merged with the Chicago-based Plan, and the company operated as Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. The company’s tremendous growth continued as other Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans joined HCSC: Texas (1998), New Mexico (2001), Oklahoma (2005), and Montana (2013).
HCSC Plans were among the first health coverage companies in their states, and they pioneered many of the benefits used today.
In Illinois, we were the first to provide:
- Coverage for autologous bone marrow transplants
- Coverage for heart transplants
- Group health insurance to rural and small communities through county health improvement associations
- The nation’s first mobile immunization program
In Oklahoma, we were the first to:
- Create a mobile health screening unit and free visual, hearing, glaucoma, blood, and blood pressure screenings
In Texas, we were the first to provide:
- Coverage for cancer treatment, catastrophic illnesses such as polio, leukemia, and diphtheria
- Coverage for infants from birth and migrant farm workers
In Montana, we were the first to:
- Offer a statewide mobile health unit to provide access to adult and child immunizations, health screenings, oral health services, and sports physicals
In New Mexico, we were the first to:
- Offer PPO coverage
- Introduce point-of-service coverage
- Exchange electronic claims information with providers
- Provide a dedicated customer service unit for large group accounts
- Offer in-hospital medical coverage on a per visit basis