Our History

Snapshot of a Blue Shield advertisement from the mid-1900s

Nearly a century in the making

Blue Cross got its start in 1929, when an administrator at Baylor University in Texas noticed teachers couldn’t afford to pay their hospital bills. A plan was created where more than 1,000 teachers paid 50 cents a month to get up to 21 days of hospital care a year. In 1934, the plan got a name and a logo: Blue Cross. Around the same time, a similar plan started for doctors’ services in the lumber and mining camps in the Pacific Northwest. It became known as Blue Shield.

From the very beginning, our goal was to make sure that people had access to the care they needed for themselves and their families.

The formative years

Just a few years later, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan started to take shape. In the late 1930’s, the Michigan Society for Group Hospitalization formed, followed by a plan for doctor’s services, called the Michigan Medical Service. By the 1940’s, the two groups changed their names to something more familiar: Michigan Blue Cross and Michigan Blue Shield.

As we continued to grow, we kept the focus on our customers and members. 


Over the next two decades, Michigan Blue Cross and Michigan Blue Shield pivoted to meet the needs of a changing health care system, while continuing to serve the needs of our members and customers.

In 1975, we merged to become Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Later that year, we bought small health plans in east and mid-Michigan, which grew into four independent regional health maintenance organizations.

In 1998, we formed Blue Care Network of Michigan, the largest HMO in the state, which was quickly recognized as one of America’s top HMOs.

As health care continued to change, so did we. Throughout the early 2000’s, we focused on initiatives that centered on affordability of care and the health and well-being of our members.

We promoted the quality and cost effectiveness of generic drugs, created wellness plans and worked with our health care providers on value partnership programs

Today and beyond

Today we remain as committed as ever to helping our members and customers in Michigan and across the country. Our efforts include working with our health care providers on increasing the efficiency and quality of care and offering innovative products to our customers.

As we’ve been for almost a century, Blue Cross is here and ready to help.