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Our History

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Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BCNEPA) began enrolling members in the wake of our country's depression. It was a risky proposition, but the idea quickly caught on, and by the end of our first year in business, the company had signed on more than 10,000 members. As 1940 drew to a close, enrollment had nearly doubled.

Miners, factory workers and teachers were joining by the thousands. BCNEPA was serving the community by taking a leadership role in creating awareness and developing health programs that improved the quality of life of its members and the community.

By this time, every third person in northeastern Pennsylvania belonged to the local Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plan.

Hurricane Agnes hit the area and BCNEPA was on the scene to help victims re-establish themselves and preserve their health.

With well more than 500,000 members, BCNEPA moved into our office location on North Main Street in Wilkes-Barre.

In the face of rising health care costs, the company formed HMO of Northeastern Pennsylvania (now known as First Priority Health) to deliver a strong and tangible response to employers seeking cost-effective heath care solutions for their employees. Still remaining strong, in late 2009, First Priority Health continued to retain its “Excellent” Accreditation status from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).

Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania and Highmark Blue Shield established The Caring Foundation of Northeastern Pennsylvania to provide health care coverage to children of our community whose families could not afford it on their own. Known today as CHIP, and offered without income limitations, the plan covers nearly 15,000 children.

BCNEPA celebrated its 60th anniversary, a proud milestone denoting our long-standing commitment to the businesses and people of northeastern and north central Pennsylvania.

BCNEPA continued to attract new members. Overall membership rose to more than 572,000 individuals, an impressive show of confidence based on our continual response to needs in a rapidly evolving health care environment. We also implemented a customer appreciation credit to help mitigate the rise in group health care cost.

The Blue Ribbon Foundation of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania was launched. BCNEPA established its private, nonprofit foundation as a vehicle to invest in community education and prevention initiatives that produce measurable health improvements and help manage long term health costs for the residents of northeastern and north central Pennsylvania.

Also in 2002, BCNEPA had the privilege of offering the state's new adultBasic insurance program for uninsured Pennsylvanians. By years end, adultBasic provided low-cost, quality health insurance for nearly 3,000 individuals between 19 and 64 who were previously uninsured. Today the plan covers nearly 5,000.

BCNEPA launched self-service web portals for our members, providers and our customers to improve efficiency and save time. Members are now able to view their claims, make changes to their personal information and communicate electronically with service representatives. Self service allows our customers to download membership information, make administrative changes and manage their billing.

Also in 2005, BCNEPA launched a first-in-the-nation campaign that challenged overweight individuals to lose a combined one million pounds and reverse the obesity epidemic that grips our region. “The Million Pound Meltdown” encouraged every overweight person in our entire community to seize control of his or her health by taking the first steps – literally – towards a longer, healthier life.

BCNEPA also joined a statewide effort led by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Foundation (PHEF) in 2005 to support the education of future nurses. BCNEPA’s support comes at a time when local doctors and hospitals are coping with a significant shortage of nurses. Keeping care local saves us all money.

With the rising cost of health care affecting everyone, BCNEPA invested in its membership with its most robust health and wellness effort to date. Blue Health Solutions offers members motivational support and encouragement through personalized health coaching, wellness and disease management and online resources to help members get healthy and live healthier everyday.

BCNEPA introduced our full line of BlueCare Direct plans for individuals not eligible for group coverage through an employer. The comprehensive plans are ideal for early retirees, recent college graduates and those self employed. And because there are several plans to choose from, including qualified high deductible plans, there’s an affordable option for just about anyone’s needs.

Also in 2007, BCNEPA joined forces with Susquehanna Health to collaborate on community health outreach and early intervention programs in and around Lycoming County. With strong involvement from health experts at both organizations, the LifeCenter, in Williamsport offers an array of services and events, such as free health screenings for diabetes, high blood pressure, colorectal cancer and other health conditions; one-to-one consultations to help individuals make better decisions about their health. Going strong in 2009, the LifeCenter handled approximately 40,000 visits for screenings, classes, consultations, displays and general health information.

BCNEPA celebrated its 70th anniversary, a proud milestone proving not only our long-standing commitment to the businesses and people of northeastern and north central Pennsylvania but our commitment working with members to help them live healthier lives.

In 2008, BCNEPA recognized the importance of investing in The Commonwealth Medical College, Scranton, which will produce a new generation of locally educated and locally trained doctors. This investment will make a significant difference in the health and wellness of our members and all of the residents of this region, improving the quality, accessibility and affordability of health care. By providing a means to keep care local, we can all benefit with improved access and cost savings.


In the fall of 2013, individual consumers and groups of all sizes will encounter a health insurance marketplace fundamentally changed by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  One of the most significant market reforms is the creation of online exchanges, where many purchasers will be able to shop for coverage the same way we shop today for commodities like travel deals and car insurance.  As a result, we have introduced our online Blue Cross Store, a sophisticated tool for learning about our insurance plans and applying for coverage through our private exchange, and serving as a portal for those who need to access the public exchange to apply for subsidies.

This full-service online marketplace complements our growing retail store presence. In June 2012, we launched The Blue Cross Store of Northeastern Pennsylvania – located in the Bartonsville Plaza on Route 611 in Stroudsburg, our first ever walk-in retail location.Within a few months of its grand opening, The Blue Cross Store attracted more than 600 visitors.  We’ll continue to support that location as we prepare for the opening of our second Blue Cross Store in Lackawanna County this summer.

As our company gets ready to celebrate its 75th Anniversary this fall (yes, 75 years of business success and service to our customers and community!), we’ll unveil a series of recognition activities of which we can all be proud, including an external campaign, a very special anniversary celebration and more surprises on the way.

Nearly 550,000 members strong, BCNEPA has succeeded in good times and bad by earning the confidence of the many businesses and employees we are privileged to serve. We are most proud of our reputation for creating lasting relationships with the communities and businesses throughout our region.

Never being content with yesterday's solutions, BCNEPA is now more than ever, dedicated to creating timely and innovative solutions designed to keep the highest quality and affordable health care. That commitment is evident in everything we do and in the wide range of health care options currently available—and evident in those new solutions currently on the horizon.