Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) traces its roots to the development of the world's first hospital care prepayment plan in 1929 by Justin Ford Kimball, a vice president at the Baylor University School of Medicine in Texas.
Using Kimball's plan as a model, a group of Chicago civic leaders, hospital officials and physicians met in the midst of the Great Depression to find a solution to the critical problem of affordable health care. In 1936, they pooled their own resources and 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 in 1998; New Mexico in 2001; Oklahoma in 2005; and Montana in 2013.
HCSC, as an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, currently provides Blue Cross and Blue Shield coverage to more than 15 million members. In addition, through its divisions and subsidiaries, HCSC offers a variety of group and individual benefits plans, related services and life insurance products.
HCSC plans were among the first health coverage companies in their states, and they pioneered many of the benefits that are taken for granted 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 CareVan, a mobile immunization program
In Texas, we were the first to provide coverage for:
- Cancer treatment
- Catastrophic illnesses such as polio, leukemia and diphtheria
- Infants from birth
- Migrant farm workers
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
In Oklahoma, we were the first to create a mobile health screening unit and provide the following free screenings:
- Blood pressure