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Blue Cross redirects here. For other uses, see Blue Cross (disambiguation).

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is the national trade organization that links 38 independent regional health insurance companies in the United States (including Puerto Rico). Based in Chicago, Illinois, it was formed in the 1982 merger of the Blue Cross Association and the National Association of Blue Shield Plans. Both organizations trace their histories to health plans that were created around the same time in two different parts of the U. S. A Texas Health Insurance. The evolution of managed health care in the United States is intimately linked to that of the Blue Cross-Blue Shield plans.


In 1929, Justin Ford Kimball became vice president of Baylor University in Dallas, Texas. An experienced administrator, he headed the College of Medicine, School of Nursing, College of Dentistry, and the university hospital. Soon after taking the job, he developed a health plan that guaranteed teachers 21 days of hospital care for $6 a year. The plan was extended to other employee groups in Dallas, and similar plans began to spread nationally.

The cross symbol was first used in a 1934 advertisement for the Hospital Service Association, today known as Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. UNICARE , American Med. Company secretary E. A. van Steenwyk had Viennese artist Joseph Binder create a poster that included a blue Greek cross. Van Steenwyk continued to use the symbol to identify his company's health plans, and the Blue Cross began to be used in other parts of the country.

In 1939, the Chicago-based American Hospital Association began using the Blue Cross symbol to signify that health plans across the country met certain standards.

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