History and Milestones

The Beginning

historyAround 1935, a group of Washington D.C., area workers — many of whom were government employees — came together to make a difference in the health of their community. They had a collective vision for revolutionizing the way they received health care. They wanted preventive, pre-paid, quality health care provided in a racially integrated environment.

Group Health Association

To achieve their vision of a group health care system, the workers created a new nonprofit organization: the Group Health Association. Formed in 1937, it became one of the nation’s first health maintenance organizations (HMOs), eventually providing healthcare for tens of thousands of residents in the Washington, D.C., area.

After decades of service to the community, the Group Health Association confronted a daunting challenge — escalating health care costs — and eventually was forced to disband. Group Health Association leaders then established the Consumer Health Foundation in 1997 to give millions of dollars gained from the sale of the organization to the local community. Find more information about the Group Health Association’s history at the National Library of Medicine (NLM).

Consumer Health Foundation

Since 1997, the Consumer Health Foundation has used the profits from the sale of the Group Health Association to support others who — on behalf of their communities, families, neighbors and themselves — undertake profound efforts to improve access to health care and the economic stability of their communities.