; Blue Facts of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and Blue System
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Blue Facts: Healthcare Coverage Designed For Your Community, Accessible Across The Country

For more than 80 years, Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies have provided a combination of healthcare security and stability to its members. The 37 independent and locally operated BCBS companies offer a personalized approach to healthcare based on the local needs of the communities where members live and work, while also providing access to a nationwide network of doctors and hospitals.

National Access

Local Customization

  • As community-based companies, BCBS companies understand their local market and offer customized products and services that are tailored to the needs of its members.
  • BCBS companies work closely with hospitals and doctors in the communities they serve to to provide quality, affordable healthcare.

EXPERIENCED

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are the oldest, most experienced providers of health coverage in America. The Blues® grew out of a grassroots approach to financing hospital and physician services in 1929; today, the Blues provide coverage to individuals in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies have partnered with the federal government to process Medicare claims and payments since the program’s inception in 1966. Today, Blue Medicare contractors handle more of the day-to-day work of paying Medicare claims than those of any other company.

TRUSTED

Today, approximately 100 million people – one-in-three Americans – rely on Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies for healthcare coverage.

  • In the late 1950s, the government passed the Federal Employees Health Benefits Act and turned to Blue Cross and Blue Shield a valuable partner to provide a government-wide service benefit plan.
  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies collectively cover more than 82 percent of America's Fortune 100 employers. Through its BlueCard program the Blues serve large national employers including Microsoft, WalMart, General Motors and UPS.
  • The Blues are committed to working with small businesses trying to manage their healthcare costs.

INNOVATIVE

Tomorrow's healthcare system should deliver safe, high-quality care; eliminate inefficient spending; and encourage and reward actions that individuals take to improve their health. Through innovative programs, the Blue System is addressing key components of care delivery and collaborating with physicians and other stakeholders rather than simply shifting costs across the system.

  • To help enhance the practice and delivery of primary care, the Blues have patient-centered medical homes (PCMH) either in market or in development for 2014 in 49 states across the country that explore effective means of provider reimbursement and integrate quality improvement, care management and patient educational tools into primary care practices. Additionally, BCBSA serves as a conduit for patient advocacy groups, employers, business coalitions, physician professional societies, government officials and other interested stakeholders wanting to partner with BCBS companies to further the PCMH model of care.
  • Blue Distinction® offers a suite of flexible national network solutions that make it easier to design benefits tailored to employers’ specific needs, leveraging designated providers that meet nationally consistent criteria for quality and efficiency. The Blue Distinction suite includes two programs:
  • Blue Distinction Specialty Care – There are two designations offered: Blue Distinction Centers are hospitals recognized for their expertise in delivering specialty care, and Blue Distinction Centers+ for hospitals recognized for their expertise and efficiency in delivering specialty care.
  • Blue Distinction Total CareSM – A single designation for patient-centered medical homes, accountable care organizations and similar programs that meet Blue requirements for patient-centered, value-based care. 
  • Founded in 1985, BCBSA's Technology Evaluation Center pioneered the development of scientific criteria for assessing the effectiveness of medical devices, procedures and biological products through comprehensive reviews and clinical evidence and is one of 11 Evidence-based Practice Centers for the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
  • Blue Health Intelligence® (BHI) leverages Blue data representing the healthcare experience of more than 110 million individuals nationwide to improve the delivery of care. BHI’s advanced analytics and applied research studies produce findings that improve medical cost and network management, increase operational efficiency and support consumer engagement.
  • View Blue Facts PDF