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Blue Distinction Specialty Care

When you need specialty care, choosing the right healthcare facility is important—and can sometimes be a challenge. Facilities may have more expertise in certain areas of specialty care than others, which can impact the quality and results of the care you receive. You deserve peace of mind that the healthcare facility you choose is right for the care you need.

That's why Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies developed a national recognition program—Blue Distinction Specialty Care—to make it easier for you and your doctor to find quality care at a facility that's right for you.

Find Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ by looking for the recognition symbols above in online doctor and hospital directories.

Blue Distinction Center and Blue Distinction Center+ designations are awarded to healthcare facilities based on a thorough, objective evaluation of their performance in the areas that matter the most—quality care, treatment expertise and overall patient results, just to name a few. The criteria are established with the help of expert physicians and medical organizations.

Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ have a proven history of delivering better quality and results than healthcare facilities without these recognitions.


For details on a provider's in-network status or your own policy's coverage, contact your local Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield company and ask your provider before making an appointment.

Bariatric Surgery

Morbid obesity is widely recognized as a contributor to serious health risks; yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 72 million Americans are obese. Some individuals may opt for bariatric surgery as a tool to aid in long-term weight-loss and increase their quality of health. Bariatric surgery has been shown to help improve or resolve many obesity-related conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and more. Many individuals who improve their weight also take less and less medications to treat their obesity-related conditions.

Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ for Bariatric Surgery designations are awarded for two types of bariatric procedures: gastric stapling (only hospitals are eligible to apply) and gastric banding (both hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers are eligible to apply). To be considered for designation, the facility must provide a full range of bariatric surgery care, including inpatient care, post-operative care, outpatient follow-up care and patient education.

Download a complete list of Blue Distinction Centers/Blue Distinction Centers+ for Bariatric Surgery (PDF).

For details on a provider’s in-network status or your own policy’s coverage, contact your local Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield company and ask your provider before making an appointment.

To view the list of designated healthcare facilities, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader®. Program selection criteria are shared with providers and are viewable on bcbs.com.

Cardiac Care

When you or someone you care about is in need of cardiac care, you want to find a facility you can trust.

Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ for Cardiac Care provide a full range of inpatient cardiac care services, including coronary artery bypass graft surgery, heart valve surgery, and angioplasty (percutaneous coronary intervention). These facilities demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients, including lower rates of complications following certain cardiac procedures.

Download a complete list of Blue Distinction Centers/Blue Distinction Centers+ for Cardiac Care (PDF).

For details on a provider’s in-network status or your own policy’s coverage, contact your local Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield company and ask your provider before making an appointment.

To view the list of designated healthcare facilities, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader®. Program selection criteria are shared with providers and are viewable on bcbs.com.

Complex and Rare Cancers

Complex and rare cancers comprise approximately 15 percent of new cancer cases each year. Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers were evaluated on patient assessment, treatment planning, complex inpatient care and major surgical treatments for adults; all delivered by teams with distinguished expertise and subspecialty training for complex and rare cancers. The program focuses on the following 13 cancers:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Brain cancer – primary
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Gastric cancer
  • Liver cancer – primary
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Acute leukemia (inpatient, non-surgical)
  • Bone cancer – primary
  • Head and neck cancers
  • Ocular melanoma
  • Soft tissue sarcoma
  • Thyroid cancer – medullary or anaplastic

Download a complete list of Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers (PDF).*

For details on a provider’s in-network status or your own policy’s coverage, contact your local Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield company and ask your provider before making an appointment.

Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers were developed in strategic collaboration with the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN).** View a complete listing of NCCN member institutions.

Blue Cross Blue Shield recognizes that the majority of patients' multidisciplinary treatment may be best accomplished by integrating the expertise available in a Blue Distinction Center with locally available treatment resources, especially for outpatient chemotherapy and radiotherapy, based on individual circumstances and patient preference. Optimal support of a patient's comprehensive cancer care needs may be achieved by coordination of care between the patient and their family, local physicians, the Blue Distinction Center and their local Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield company.

View additional resources regarding complex and rare cancers.

*Specific subtypes of complex and rare cancers for which a facility met selection criteria are identified alongside the facility’s name but are not intended as a comprehensive list of all cancer care services that the facility may offer. **This organization has provided information and input, but does not formally endorse the Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers program. 

To view the list of designated healthcare facilities, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader®. Program selection criteria are shared with providers and are viewable on bcbs.com.

Knee and Hip Replacement

Whether you're exploring treatment options with your doctor or have already decided to have knee or hip replacement surgery, the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program can help you find the right hospital for the specific procedure you need.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies have designated healthcare facilities that demonstrate expertise in total knee and total hip replacement surgeries as Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ for Knee and Hip Replacement. Research confirms that designated facilities in these areas have fewer complications and fewer hospital readmissions than non-designated facilities.

Download a complete list of Blue Distinction Centers/Blue Distinction Centers+ for Knee and Hip Replacement (PDF).

For details on a provider’s in-network status or your own policy’s coverage, contact your local Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield company and ask your provider before making an appointment.

To view the list of designated healthcare facilities, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader®. Program selection criteria are shared with providers and are viewable on bcbs.com.

Maternity Care

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, nearly four million babies are born in the U.S. annually, making childbirth the most common cause of hospitalization.

Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ for Maternity Care are healthcare facilities with demonstrated expertise and a commitment to quality care during vaginal and cesarean section deliveries. These facilities are evaluated on several quality measures, including the percentage of deliveries that fall into the category of early elective delivery, as well as overall patient satisfaction.

Download a complete list of Blue Distinction Centers/Blue Distinction Centers+ for Maternity Care (PDF).

For details on a provider’s in-network status or your own policy’s coverage, contact your local Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield company and ask your provider before making an appointment.

To view the list of designated healthcare facilities, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader®. Program selection criteria are shared with providers and are viewable on bcbs.com.

Spine Surgery

Studies confirm that as many as eight out of 10 Americans suffer from some sort of back pain. If you and your doctor have determined that spine surgery is the most appropriate treatment option for your severe and/or chronic back pain, the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program can help you locate the right facility to meet your needs.

Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ for Spine Surgery provide comprehensive inpatient spine surgery services, including discectomy, fusion and decompression procedures. Research confirms that designated healthcare facilities in this area have lower readmission rates and fewer reoperations than non-designated facilities. 

Download a complete list of Blue Distinction Centers/Blue Distinction Centers+ for Spine Surgery (PDF).

For details on a provider’s in-network status or your own policy’s coverage, contact your local Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield company and ask your provider before making an appointment.

To view the list of designated healthcare facilities, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader®. Program selection criteria are shared with providers and are viewable on bcbs.com.

Transplants

In 2015, nearly 31,000 organ transplant procedures were performed, and more than 115,000 people are currently on the transplant waiting list, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ for Transplants have demonstrated their commitment to quality care, resulting in better overall outcomes for transplant patients.

Each facility meets stringent clinical criteria, established in collaboration with expert physicians' and medical organizations' recommendations*, including the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR), the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) and the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT). Both Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ for Transplants help simplify the administrative process involved in this complex care so that patients, their families, and physicians can focus on the medical issues.

Blue Distinction Centers for Transplants provide a range of services for the following transplant types:

  • Heart
  • Lung
  • Liver
  • Pancreas
  • Bone marrow/stem cell

Download a complete list of Blue Distinction Centers/Blue Distinction Centers+ for Transplants (PDF).

For details on a provider’s in-network status or your own policy’s coverage, contact your local Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield company and ask your provider before making an appointment.

Additional resources about transplant services, including sources of potential financial assistance and a directory of available patient advocates and education are available.

*These organizations have provided information and input, but do not formally endorse the Blue Distinction Centers for Transplants program.

To view the list of designated healthcare facilities, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader®. Program selection criteria are shared with providers and are viewable on bcbs.com.


If you are a physician or hospital administrator interested in learning more or would like your healthcare facility to be considered for designation as a Blue Distinction Center or Blue Distinction Center+ in any of these areas of focus, please click here.

Blue Distinction Centers (BDC) met overall quality measures for patient safety and outcomes, developed with input from the medical community. A Local Blue Plan may require additional criteria for facilities located in its own service area; for details, contact your Local Blue Plan. Blue Distinction Centers+ (BDC+) also met cost measures that address consumers’ need for affordable healthcare. Each facility’s cost of care is evaluated using data from its Local Blue Plan. Facilities in CA, ID, NY, PA, and WA may lie in two Local Blue Plans’ areas, resulting in two evaluations for cost of care; and their own Local Blue Plans decide whether one or both cost of care evaluation(s) must meet BDC+ national criteria. National criteria for BDC and BDC+ are displayed on www.bcbs.com. Individual outcomes may vary. For details on a provider’s in-network status or your own policy’s coverage, contact your Local Blue Plan and ask your provider before making an appointment. Neither Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association nor any Blue Plans are responsible for non-covered charges or other losses or damages resulting from Blue Distinction or other provider finder information or care received from Blue Distinction or other providers.