From Ohio History Central
Blue Cross & Blue Shield Mutual of Ohio has its roots in the Cleveland Hospital Service Association. John R. Mannix founded this earlier organization in Cleveland in 1934 to help people pay for the cost of hospital care. The Cleveland Hospital Service Association was a prepayment plan. Individuals made small payments to the association. If they had to be admitted to a hospital, the costs would not be as high. The program was an immediate success, with more than ten thousand subscribers in its first year and 500,000 by 1941.
The Cleveland Hospital Service Association began to expand the benefits that it offered in the late 1930s and early 1940s. At first, only individual subscribers could participate in the program, but soon it was offered to entire families. At this time, the association paid only for hospitalization. People covered under the plan were responsible for other medical expenses such as doctors' appointments and medication.
In 1957, the Cleveland Hospital Service Association merged with the Akron Hospital Service to form Blue Cross of Northeast Ohio. This was the first time that these two organizations were linked to Blue Cross programs across the United States. Blue Cross of Northeast Ohio merged with Medical Mutual of Cleveland and became Blue Cross & Blue Shield Mutual of Northern Ohio in 1984. Two years later, this company combined with a Blue Cross program based in Toledo, Ohio, to form Blue Cross & Blue Shield Mutual of Ohio. The resulting business became one of the largest insurance companies in the nation.