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Oklahoma's Oldest and Largest Private Health Insurer
To celebrate Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma’s (BCBSOK) 75th Anniversary we’ve added information to our website about our history, member testimonials, and stories from our community partners and employees. A special hashtag, #BCBSOK75 is available for employees, members and the community to share special moments on social media throughout the year.
To commemorate this milestone, BCBSOK celebrated with members and community partners at sporting events in both Oklahoma City and Tulsa this past summer. Proceeds from event ticket sales benefited area United Way agencies in both locations as a way to highlight BCBSOK’s longstanding commitment to Oklahoma’s communities.
BCBSOK hosted an open house at its Oklahoma City office in March, and guests from local nonprofit organizations, tribal communities, state agencies, and health care organizations attended the event.
During the summer months, BCBSOK enhanced outdoor areas using 75th anniversary decorations at all three Oklahoma office locations. Redesigned flower beds and landscaping showcased a “75” theme, along with custom window decals, flags, banners and sign wraps.
In November, a special reunion and open house was held at the Tulsa headquarters building. Guests from local nonprofit organizations, state agencies, and health care organizations attended the event, which also featured a reunion of four former leaders, spanning years of service from 1977 to current.
BCBSOK gathered historical items to be placed in a time capsule that will be buried on the company’s property and opened at the 100th anniversary in 2040. Items in the time capsule include a commemorative flag with employees’ signatures, and various items such as a vintage member ID card and historical photos.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma (BCBSOK) originally began as the "Group Hospital Services of Oklahoma" and opened its doors on March 15, 1940, in the Tulsa Loan Building in downtown Tulsa. The first health plans were effective on April 1, 1940, and soon after they adopted the Blue Cross name and logo. The Blue Shield Companion Plan, initially known as Oklahoma Physician’s Services, was established in 1945.
A few years later, hospital benefits and medical coverage was expanded and membership soared, and the company grew from 13 employees in 1945 to 130 in 1952. Much of the member growth in the 1950s is attributed to the company's "Community Enrollment Program" that was established in 1953, and two booth trailers were purchased in 1956 to serve as mobile enrollment offices.
Lloyd Lamirand (Shown here at a 1946 Norman community enrollment event - standing at left) was one of a number of returning veterans to join the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma team.
Ralph Rhoades, left, advertising and public relations manager in the 1950s, and later BCBSOK president from 1977 until 1997, greets a new member as he steps from one of the trailers used in Community Enrollment drives.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield operated for more than 30 years as separate entities with shared management and staff, until 1973, when the two merged into Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma. Health care programs have continued to grow and change with the public interest in mind. Emphasis on the health and welfare of the communities in Oklahoma has remained the number one priority for BCBSOK.
Today, BCBSOK has more than 850,000 members and employs more than 1,100 loyal Oklahomans. As BCBSOK marks 2015 with 75 years of history and success, the company looks forward to continuing the hard work of addressing the health challenges facing the state, and focusing on how it can help make Oklahoma a healthier place to live, work and raise a family.
Our Member Commitment
We continue to progress with the changing times. Our Member Voice videos, partner testimonials and timeline prove that while the world is changing, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma is evolving to provide best in class service to the Oklahoma community.
Member Voice videos feature real-life, unscripted experiences. Members are not compensated for their participation.
"We are grateful for our ongoing partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma. It is a relationship that extends far beyond funding into truly serving the Indian people of Oklahoma. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma has been there to provide camp volunteers, send Blaze to surprise our youth, teach our youth traditional dances, and assist in educating our youth about healthy lives. They have provided much needed funding and donated time at every level of the company. It is this complete dedication to the health of our community that led to our choosing Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma as our Inaugural Circle of Life Community Partner."
Carmelita Skeeter, CEO Indian Health Care Resource Center of Tulsa.
"Employees regularly volunteer at the Regional Food Bank and our Fresh Food Mobile Markets to ensure that our neighbors struggling with hunger have access to healthy, nutritious food and receive health and wellness education. We are grateful for their continued support in ‘Fighting Hunger…Feeding Hope.’ "
Rodney Bivens, Executive Director of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.
"Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma is one of our most valued and enduring community partners .The Blue Cross organization is committed to the health and well-being of our community, and its employees are always the first to raise their hands, roll up their sleeves and open their hearts."
Mark Graham, President and CEO of Tulsa Area United Way.
"Helping out with the BCBSOK community events and utilizing my Spanish speaking skills have had a tremendous positive impact in my daily duties. I am reminded that our job impacts our neighbors, families and friends. Being able to speak to members and potential members in their language is rewarding. They are so appreciative and happy that BCBSOK cared enough to have a person they could communicate with about their healthcare questions. I am proud to work for such an amazing company that supports its communities, members and employees."
Jessica, BCBSOK employee — Tulsa.
"I am proud to be a BCBSOK employee because our core values match up to my personal values. As a company we are here to stand with our members and help our communities. My life is about helping and serving others."
Kevin, BCBSOK employee — Tulsa.
"Being an employee of BCBSOK brings me a great feeling of pride. Anytime people find out where I work they always have good things to say about our product and our people. I feel very fortunate to be able to represent BCBSOK in the community."