75 years of health care access

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Since 1946, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina has continuously worked with patients and providers to offer South Carolinians secure, cost-efficient health care coverage. In honor of our 75th anniversary, this interactive timeline will take you on a journey through our company’s long and storied history. Along the way, you will learn the purpose, follow the progress and meet the people that made — and continue to make — BlueCross the great company we know it to be. Whether you are a new hire, an “old timer” or anywhere in between, we thank you for all you do and hope you enjoy the journey! Scroll down to get started.

Evolution of Access

Health care has been in a constant state of change for the past 75 years, and BlueCross has evolved right along with it. In this section, you’ll learn how BlueCross has always responded to the changing needs of its members. You’ll find out about the innovative programs it has created through the decades to become a top health insurance provider for South Carolinians.

Evolution of Access

BlueCross offers policies to individuals

To provide BlueCross protection to a wider population, the company started selling policies during special open enrollment periods to people under age 65 who were not covered under a large group plan.


Evolution of Access

BlueCross offers new plans designed to “fill the gaps” of Medicare

In response to the federal government raising the deductible and coinsurance for Medicare, BlueCross offered BlueCross-65 and BlueShield-65 plans to cover those and other costs that Medicare would not.


Evolution of Access

BlueCross ends open enrollment period

In a significant shift, BlueCross allowed customers to purchase individual health policies at any time during the year. Traditionally, insurers would guarantee acceptance of an applicant’s policy only during a short enrollment period.


Evolution of Access

BlueCross makes radical changes in the way it does business

One of those changes was licensing insurance agents to sell “nongroup” policies. BlueCross President Joe Sullivan lauded the move as one that would “make vitally needed hospitalization, medical and surgical insurance available to all South Carolinians at any time." 

Another change was its adoption of “plain talk” language. The company announced a plan to revise 39 policies into language that could be more easily understood by the average person. It was the first such move by any South Carolina insurer, and CEO Joe Sullivan called the measure “a quantum leap forward in educating our subscribers.” 


Evolution of Access

Small groups qualify for BlueCross coverage

Starting with the Prime Protector Mini-Group series, BlueCross began offering smaller groups of two to 12 employees health, life and disability products packaged together,  benefits comparable to those offered by “corporate giants to their employees.” The Dimension Series would soon replace Prime Protector, expanding benefits to include dental and making the plans available to groups with two to 49 employees.


Evolution of Access

BlueCross establishes its first PPO network

This first network, Preferred Personal Care (later renamed Preferred Blue), included only dentists. The following year, doctors and hospitals were added. Despite initial reluctance from the provider community, the network quickly grew and remains the largest network in our state today. 


Evolution of Access

Companion HealthCare (CHC) launches

One of the first health maintenance organizations in South Carolina, CHC became a popular option for employers looking to control costs through managed care measures that included coverage for preventive care services and targeted care management programs.
In 2005, Companion HealthCare, by that time the second largest health plan in South Carolina, changed its name to BlueChoice HealthPlan of South Carolina. The change  reflected the relationship to its parent company, BlueCross, and to the nationwide system of Blue Cross and Blue Shield organizations.


Evolution of Access

BlueCross launches Blue-by-Design, the first consumer-driven health plan (CDHP) in South Carolina

CDHPs gave members more control in their health care decisions and the ability to set aside pretax dollars in health savings accounts to pay for their health care.


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Evolution of Access

Medicare Modernization Act establishes Part D, Medicare Advantage

This landmark legislation opened the door to new products for BlueCross and wider options for our customers with Medicare. BlueCross would hold its first open enrollment for Part D and Medicare Advantage plans in 2005 with effective dates for Jan. 1, 2006. 


Evolution of Access

BlueChoice HealthPlan offers a managed care option for people with Medicaid

Joining the South Carolina Healthy Connections program to launch the new product — renamed Healthy Blue in 2018 — BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina offered health coverage for every market in South Carolina.


Evolution of Access

BlueCross launches its first patient-centered medical home

In this care model, a patient’s primary care physician leads a team of other health care professionals. They work together on treatment plans for patients with chronic conditions. Today, BlueCross has 300 of these locations, including more than 100 pediatric practices. 


Evolution of Access

Affordable Care Act (ACA) takes effect

Known as “health care reform,” this sweeping legislation significantly changed how insurance companies designed and distributed their plans and products. BlueCross quickly became the leading health plan offering coverage on the individual exchange. For most years, BlueCross has also been the only plan offering coverage in all counties of the state, demonstrating our commitment to providing access to affordable health care to all, no matter where they live. 


Evolution of Access

BlueCross establishes its first Accountable Care Organization (ACO)

ACOs are arrangements with health care systems and providers designed to improve population health, reduce or control costs, and improve member and provider experience. The number of members served through ACOs has jumped from just under 14,000 in 2013 to more than 93,000 in 2021, resulting in savings of more than $112 million to date.


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Evolution of Access

BlueCross makes accessing health care even easier with Blue CareOnDemand

Members can now access telehealth services via the website or app, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This convenient service would become especially significant in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic would cause demand and use to soar, not only for medical consults but behavioral health, too. 


Evolution of Access

BlueCross opens a SC BLUE Retail Center in Myrtle Beach

This is the fourth store in South Carolina. BlueCross started its retail strategy with a Mt. Pleasant store in 2009. In 2013, it expanded its retail footprint to Greenville and Columbia to meet the demand for new individual products mandated by the Affordable Care Act.


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