Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas

Our History

Learn more about the beginning days of our company and notable milestones along the way.

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 (BCBSKS).

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 BCBSKS, 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.

Learn about our more recent history in the BCBSKS timeline below.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas Timeline

The following timeline provides a look at how Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas originated and how the company has evolved over the years:



The Kansas Hospital Service Association (KHSA) is created by a special enabling act passed by the Kansas Legislature. The legislation allows for the creation of the not-for-profit corporation for the purpose of entering into contracts with hospitals to provide services to Kansans.

March 1942

KHSA begins operations.

Summer 1942

Sam J. Barham is named the first president of the company.


Another enabling act passed by the Kansas Legislature creates Kansas Physician's Service. This not-for-profit corporation is formed for the purpose of entering into contracts with physicians.

Jan. 1, 1946

The first Blue Shield of Kansas contract becomes effective. The premiums are 90 cents a month for a single contract and $2.25 for family. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield combined monthly premium for a family contract is $4.


The Kansas Hospital Service Association changes its name to Blue Cross of Kansas Inc., and Kansas Physician's Service becomes known as Blue Shield of Kansas Inc.


BCBSKS reaches and surpasses $100 million mark for total payments to hospitals and doctors for care of its members.


This decade is revolutionary for BCBSKS. Many programs still in existence today are developed during this period. It marks the beginning of electronic data processing; administration of the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs; development of the Federal Employee Program; and a new payment arrangement for participating physicians.

Enrollment grows to more than 600,000 customers by the company's 20th anniversary - nearly 32 percent of the eligible population. By the company's 25th anniversary, more than 11,500 Kansas businesses have BCBSKS coverage for their employees. More than a third of a billion dollars now have been paid for hospital and doctor services received by its customers since its formation.


The Health Care Financing Administration (now known as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) selects BCBSKS to serve Medicare beneficiaries in Kansas.

With the advent of Medicare, the company establishes a supplemental program for Kansans age 65 and older known as Plan 65. We have continued to administer the Medicare contract for Kansans ever since. Today BCBSKS also administers Medicare B claims for Nebraska and the Greater Kansas City Area.


BCBSKS begins to handle the federal Medicaid program for the State of Kansas. This relationship lasts until 1978, but resumes again in 1996.


Provisions of Kansas enabling statutes passed in 1941 and 1945, calling the corporations "charitable and benevolent," are repealed.



BCBSKS begins paying property tax on its property. Prior to this time, the company had been exempt.

Sept. 1975

Wellington D. Jones Jr. becomes the president upon the retirement of Sam J. Barham.


Sept. 1, 1980

G. Wayne Johnston becomes president, replacing Wellington D. Jones Jr.


Blue Cross of Kansas Inc. and Blue Shield of Kansas Inc. consolidate into one corporation, and cost containment programs are expanded.

Administrative Services of Kansas, Inc. (ASK) is established as a subsidiary corporation to the company. ASK is responsible for the leasing and selling of computer hardware and software for use in the company's paperless claims network.


A program known as CAP - Competitive Allowance Program - is introduced and becomes the foundation for the company's reimbursement agreements with Kansas health care providers. The creation of CAP is a milestone in the company's efforts to control costs. CAP continues to save our customers millions of dollars each year.


Kansas Group Life Insurance Company is incorporated as a subsidiary of the company. The creation of the life insurance company allows BCBSKS to offer a complete line of fringe benefits to its customers.


March 1, 1990

Thomas L. Miller succeeds G. Wayne Johnston as president/CEO.


BCBSKS becomes a mutual life insurance company through legislation passed by the Kansas Legislature. The company supports the action because it will allow all insurers in the state to have equal treatment in terms of regulation of contracts and premiums.


Kansas Group Life Insurance Company becomes Advance Insurance Company.


The company introduces Premier Blue, a health maintenance organization.


The company becomes the fiscal agent for the Medicaid contract with the State of Kansas.

BCBSKS and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City discuss merging the two Blue Plans into one organization, but discussions end in 1997 due to cultural differences and legal considerations.

March 1997

John W. Knack becomes president/CEO upon the retirement of Thomas L. Miller.


BCBSKS becomes the Kansas network subcontractor for CHAMPUS (now known as TRICARE).


The company establishes its website to have immediate electronic capability to disseminate company information to an ever-growing online audience.

Dec. 31, 1998

The Caring Program for Children, a free primary and preventive health benefits program for eligible children, steps aside for a state-run federal program called HealthWave. The Caring Program served nearly 13,000 Kansas children during its 10-year existence.


The company begins work on complying with provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. This involves establishing electronic transaction standards for health plans, health care clearinghouses and health care providers throughout the country.


August 2000

An agreement is reached in a lawsuit that BCBSKS filed in May 1997 which says BCBSKS will pay $75 million to fund a new Kansas charitable health foundation established by the state. The agreement frees BCBSKS from any further charitable obligations.

September 2000

The Sunflower Foundation is established with the $75 million from BCBSKS.

January 2001

BCBSKS announces its decision to open a satellite office in Salina, creating nearly 50 new positions in customer service and claims processing.

May 2001

BCBSKS and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield enter into a definitive agreement to affiliate, a plan which is later approved by the BCBSKS policyholders. However, the affiliation is later denied by the Kansas insurance commissioner (February 2002), a decision which is affirmed by the Kansas Supreme Court in August 2003.

June 30, 2002

The company ends its role as the fiscal agent for the Medicaid contract with the State of Kansas.

June 2, 2003

Michael M. Mattox becomes the company's president/CEO upon the retirement of John W. Knack.

Oct. 1, 2004

Advance Insurance Company officially becomes Advance Insurance Company of Kansas, providing life and disability products in the BCBSKS service area.


The company announces in May and breaks ground in the fall on a proposed $21 million construction project on its main campus in Topeka, building a new four-story structure and new customer service center. The two-phase project is completed in early 2007 at a final cost of approximately $25 million.


The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas Foundation is incorporated in mid-year with a $2 million gift from BCBSKS. The foundation, which is required by law to distribute 5 percent of its assets each year, seeks to fund health-related programs and activities of 501(c)(3) organizations. The first major grant program of the foundation, Healthy Habits for Life, was unveiled in 2006.


Wheatlands Administrative Services, Inc., is created, officially beginning operations in October. Wheatlands is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BCBSKS responsible for all current and future Medicare business. (Wheatlands was dissolved in 2008 when BCBSKS no longer served as a Medicare contractor.)

Oct. 1, 2007

Andrew C. Corbin becomes the company's president/CEO upon the retirement of Michael M. Mattox.

Feb. 29, 2008

The company ends its role as the fiscal intermediary for the Medicare Part A program in Kansas and the carrier for Medicare Part B in Kansas, Nebraska and northwestern Missouri.


March 23, 2010

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is signed into law, marking the beginning of a period of substantial change within the health care and health insurance industries. BCBSKS immediately began work to understand what was required to comply with the law and to educate employer groups and members about new protections and benefits, as well as the years-long timeline for additional changes. Highlights of the work included preparing dozens of new BlueCare and SG Choice benefit plans (effective Jan. 1, 2014) for both the federally-facilitated exchanges and the company's new online sales portal, as well as development of new reimbursement models for providers and wellness programs for members. Substantial investments were made to improve the company's operating systems and manage data analytics.


A new subsidiary, BlueCross BlueShield Kansas Solutions, Inc., was incorporated in 2013 to allow the company additional flexibility in developing competitive benefit plans for the federally-facilitated exchanges and direct sales. In the mid-2010s, the company took steps toward new value-based models of reimbursement that focus on quality and cost of care rather than number of services provided. Unveiled in 2013 after a successful pilot program, BlueSTEM is a patient-centered medical home partnership with dozens of professional providers throughout the company's service area. In 2015, the company entered into its first-ever accountable care organization agreement with a contracting hospital; this initial agreement was made with the Via Christi Healthier You Alliance in Accountable Care in Wichita.

July 2016

The company unveils its largest community grant program in its history, Pathways to a Healthy Kansas. Sixteen communities are selected to receive grant dollars, technical assistance and tools to help make healthy eating and tobacco-free, active living a way of life.

April 1, 2018

Matt All becomes the eighth president/CEO upon the retirement of Andrew C. Corbin.