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Books, Journals, New Media
March 4, 1998

‘The Blues'The Blues: A History of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield System

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorJonathan D.EldredgeMLS, PhD, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


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JAMA. 1998;279(9):714-715. doi:10.1001/jama.279.9.714-JBK0304-2-1

This book is a detailed chronology of the evolution of "the Blues" from their origin in group hospital prepayment plans, begun in 1929 by Justin Ford Kimball at Baylor University Hospital in Dallas, Tex, with public school teachers as clients. For a payment of 50 cents a month the hospital provided complete hospital care when needed. Within 5 years the plan enrolled 408 groups with 23000 members. Although prepayment plans and company doctors had previously existed in some of the mining and mill towns of the Pacific Northwest and in some other parts of the country, they had not attracted much interest from commercial insurance companies, owing mainly to fear of adverse selection of poor risks. The Dallas plan was soon copied elsewhere, and, by 1935, 17 plans had enrolled 215000 people.

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