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A Tribute to our Founder: E. A. van Steenwyk

Elmer Arnold (E. A.) van Steenwyk (1905-1962)

E.A. van Steenwyk, known to all as Van, was a passionate advocate of voluntary hospital service prepayment plans, working tirelessly to make it affordable for people to get the health care they needed. His legacy lives on in Philadelphia and across the United States.

Van was regarded as “a pioneer in the Blue Cross program…introducing new coverage and widening benefits.”

“Nothing quite like this has ever been done in our generation or in our country.”

Van received the inaugural Justin Ford Kimball award in 1958 “for outstanding encouragement given to the concept of prepaid voluntary health care plans”

Van was recognized in Philadelphia and beyond as “Mr. Blue Cross”.

"Medicine in the United States needs help…ordinary and conventional approaches to the financing problem of people needing medical and hospital care will no longer meet an urgent public need.”

“The envied name, the symbol, the mark – BLUE CROSS…has been and will continue to be the universally respected banner under which we march.”

– James E. Stuart, Blue Cross Association, 1962

As the first executive of the Hospital Service Association of St. Paul, MN, which he named Blue Cross, Van was “apostle, salesman, and total staff of the new hospitalization plan.”