The year was 1941, and history was being made around the world. Franklin Roosevelt was sworn in as President for a third term. The United States was drawn into World War II after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. And in America's heartland, the Kansas Legislature passed the enabling act that created the forerunner of the present-day Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas.

Who would have believed that more than 80 years later, an organization that began in 1942 with eight customers would one day grow to become a corporation serving nearly one million Kansans and offering hundreds of combinations of hospital and medical-surgical programs. That's the track record of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, which are now household words for most Kansans.

You could say that the company got its start in the lumber and mining camps of the Pacific Northwest. It was there, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, that a system of medical prepayment was developed which eventually evolved into the current Blue Shield organization. The system involved contracting directly with a physician, or group of physicians, to provide medical service to company employees. The physicians received a regular monthly fee for their services. The system went through a series of evolutions and in 1939 became known as the Blue Shield organization.

The other half of the company's history was evolving in Texas, where a group of Baylor University teachers conceived a plan for providing themselves with affordable hospital services. In 1929, the teachers began paying a small amount to the university hospital each month. The hospital, in turn, provided the teachers with hospital services at no additional cost when the need arose. The idea caught on, and by 1933 these hospital service plans had adopted the Blue Cross name.

View Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas Historical Timeline.