Blue Distinction Program


The Blue Distinction Program integrates performance measures focusing on appropriateness of care and patient safety into a national framework for improving hospital-based care delivery.

To encourage the consistent approach to using data for the improvement of hospital care, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) in partnership with participating Blue Plans launched the Blue Distinction Hospital Measurement and Improvement Program. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield is proud to be a participating Plan in this program.

The program integrates performance measures focusing on appropriateness of care and patient safety into a national framework for improving hospital-based care delivery. The program includes measures from two public sources—clinical measures focusing on heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS); and patient safety indicator measures from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

If you or a family member needs specialty care, we have you covered. The nationwide Blue Distinction Specialty Care Centers deliver safe, effective and cost-efficient specialty care. You have access to 3,300+ Blue Distinction Specialty Centers—which are surgical/specialty centers that are among the best in nation for transplants, bariatric surgeries, cancer, spine surgery, maternity care, cardiac surgeries and knee and hip replacements.

You deserve peace of mind that the health care facility you choose is right for the care you need. That’s why Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies developed a national recognition program—Blue Distinction Specialty Care—to make it easier for you and your doctor to find quality care at a facility that’s right for you.

There are two categories of recognition:

Blue Distinction Centers
Health care facilities recognized for their expertise in delivering specialty care.

Blue Distinction Centers+
Health care facilities recognized for their expertise and efficiency in delivering specialty care.

There are seven areas of care:

  1. Bariatric Surgery
  2. Cardiac Care
  3. Complex and Rare Cancers*
  4. Knee and Hip Replacement
  5. Maternity Care
  6. Spine Surgery
  7. Transplants

*Blue Distinction Center designation only

Evaluating what matters

Blue Distinction Center and Blue Distinction Center+ designations are awarded to health care facilities based on a thorough, objective evaluation of their performance in the areas that matter most—quality care, treatment expertise and overall patient outcomes, just to name a few. Our selection criteria are developed with the help of expert doctors and medical organizations.

Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ have a proven history of delivering better quality and results than healthcare facilities without these recognitions.

Find a Blue Distinction Center near you

Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ are available nationwide—and finding one is easy. To locate a facility visit the Blue Distinction Center Finder at bcbs.com/bdcfinder or call the toll-free number on your member ID card.

Blue Distinction Total Care physicians, including 447,500+ value-based physicians nationwide, are patient-centered physicians who receive higher reimbursement levels to give you more attention, help better coordinate your care, deliver quality care and take steps to help you improve your health. You can search for these physicians right in our provider directory.


Blue Distinction Centers (BDC) met overall quality measures for patient safety and outcomes, developed with input from the medical community. Blue Distinction Centers+ (BDC+) also met cost measures that address consumers’ need for affordable healthcare. Individual outcomes may vary. National criteria is displayed on www.bcbs.com. A Local Blue Plan may require additional criteria for facilities located in its own service area. For details on Local Blue Plan Criteria, a provider’s in-network status, or your own policy’s coverage, contact your Local Blue Plan. Each facility’s cost of care is evaluated using data from its Local Blue Plan. Facilities in CA, ID, NY, PA, and WA may lie in two Local Blue Plans’ areas, resulting in two evaluations for cost of care; and their own Local Blue Plans decide whether one or both cost of care evaluation(s) must meet BDC+ national criteria. Neither Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association nor any Blue Plans are responsible for damages or non-covered charges resulting from Blue Distinction or other provider finder information or care received from Blue Distinction or other providers.