In 2019, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan will celebrate its 80th anniversary. That’s 80 years of increasing access to affordable health care, enhancing patient care and improving the health of Michigan’s citizens and communities. But we didn’t get here on our own. Throughout the year, we’re expressing gratitude and thankfulness for the people and places that have shaped who we are.
Although a lot has changed over 80 years, one constant is the valuable partnerships we’ve forged throughout that time.
Making Michigan healthier is work made lighter through the many hands undertaking on-the-ground efforts in places where people live and work. We’re grateful for the many organizations and people we partner with throughout the state that help us do that.
Here are some of their stories.
Michigan volunteers and staff of the American Heart Association are devoted to fighting heart disease and do so in a variety of ways across the state. Find out how the AHA works to protect all of our hearts.
For almost 20 years, end-of-life care providers have journeyed to the wilds of the U.P. for the Janus Project, an innovative approach to improving the experience for patients and caregivers. Initial funding from the BCBSM Foundation helped the Cedar Tree Institute, one of the partners we’re recognizing this year, get it started.
We’re proud supporters of the Michigan Health and Hospital Association’s 100th anniversary celebrations. We’ve also partnered with the MHA on patient safety initiatives through their Keystone Center Patient Safety Organization, which has advanced the health and overall well-being of Michigan communities.
LaughFest attracts nationally-renowned comedians to Grand Rapids and funds raised during the event help Gilda’s Club carry on its mission of providing emotional support to those in Michigan touched by cancer. We’ve been a proud supporter of LaughFest over the years.
Spotlight on MHA Keystone Center
U.P. Retreat Focuses on End-of-Life Care
During the 1930s, hospitals went bankrupt and two of every three doctor bills went unpaid. The time was right for a new idea: prepaid health care. The Michigan Society for Group Hospitalization, a forerunner of Blue Cross, signs its first subscriber.
The Michigan Medical Service, a forerunner of Blue Shield, starts up with a $10,000 loan from the Michigan State Medical Society. The Michigan Society for Group Hospitalization changes its name to Michigan Hospital Service and starts using the Blue Cross symbol.
Individual health plans are marketed for the first time, while Michigan Blue Cross and Michigan Blue Shield develop and market health plans for individual senior citizens who are not eligible for group coverage.
As medical care improves and health care costs rise, many can’t afford health care. To address this problem, Medicare and Medicaid are enacted, and the government selects Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies to administer the program.
In 1975, Michigan Blue Cross and Michigan Blue Shield consolidate into a single corporation, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan, with customers and subscribers increasing their majority control of the new board of directors to 59 percent.
Blue Cross offers hospitals a new reimbursement contract that replaces the fixed-payment per-case system with a cost-based, global payment system. Eventually, all community hospitals in the state agree to participate.
New regional service centers open in downtown Grand Rapids, Marquette and Portage. The Bricktown Customer Service Plaza building opens in downtown Detroit adjacent to the Blues’ existing downtown 21-story office tower.
Blue Cross launches a new statewide physical activity program called WalkingWorks, led by Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell, an avid walker. Daniel J. Loepp is selected by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Board of Directors to become CEO in 2005, a role he still holds today.
The Michigan Legislature passes bills allowing the Board of Directors to transition the company to a tax-paying, nonprofit mutual insurer. Blue Cross begins operating as a nonprofit mutual insurance company and holds its first member meeting in 2014.