​Our History

​As Dane County’s first member-owned health plan, all of us at GHC-SCW are proud of our legacy of "firsts" that have set us apart from day one.

Our journey begins with the vision of early founding members who had a novel idea that the consumers of health care should own and govern the way health care is organized and delivered. They wanted to bring a new emphasis of preventive health care and cost control to the established system notorious for a high medical costs and provider control.

From the first bold vision of what GHC-SCW could be, we’ve never stopped listening, growing and innovating to find new ways to enhance the quality of care and improve the quality of lives. Today, we are consistently ranked one of the top health plans3 in Wisconsin and in the nation.

March 6, 1972 – GHC-SCW incorporates

To bring participation to the Madison-area medial system, a group of like-minded community members decided to establish GHC-SCW as a prepaid group practice. Although the established medical community opposed the concept of community and member involvement in health care at the time, eventually our novel idea took root.

October 1974 – GHC-SCW Receives Start-Up Funding

Facing stiff opposition from the Dane County Medical Society and a lack of funding, GHC-SCW worked diligently to secure funding from the Wisconsin Health Planning Council. These funds allowed GHC-SCW to form an organizational structure, purchase equipment and hire staff.

March 1, 1976 – GHC-SCW provides services

We began providing medical services on March 1, 1976 in a rental space located in a medical building at Park St. and Regent St. Forty-nine individuals enrolled for medical care through GHC-SCW.  

October 28, 1976 – First Membership Meeting

From the beginning, our steadfast belief in member involvement defined our organization. At the first membership meeting, members elected a 15-person GHC-SCW Board of Directors, made up of members of the Cooperative.

April 1, 1981 – Membership Triples in Three Years

All the efforts to provide the community with a member-sponsored health plan began to show tangible results in 1981 when enrollment surged to 11,353 members. As the area’s only HMO, GHC-SCW emphasized primary care, health education, routine office visits and early disease detection – all designed to keep members healthy.  

January 1, 1984 – First to Offer Dental Benefits

GHC-SCW was the first HMO in the area to offer preventive dental benefits to members.

1984 – Transformation of the Health Insurance Market

The State of Wisconsin Employee Trust Fund, with its 27,000 employees, wanted to make more HMO plans similar to GHC-SCW available to its employees. Early founders were amazed that their novel idea to bring prepaid medical care to the community would help stimulate the growth of competing plans just eight years after GHC-SCW began.

January 1, 1989 – Partnership with UW Hospital and Clinics

After successfully collaborating on projects with UW Hospital and Clinics, it was a natural fit for GHC-SCW to expand services to UW Hospital and Clinics locations. The ability to partner with health care organizations allowed GHC-SCW to later become the only health plan in Dane County to offer access to all Dane County specialists and hospitals, including St. Mary’s Hosptial, Meriter Hospital, Stoughton Hospital and University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics.

October 1, 1996 – GHC-SCW Improves Access to Health Care

GHC-SCW joined the Alliance and area Chambers of Commerce to launch a new and innovative insurance program, the Alliance-Chamber Health Insurance Program (A-CHIP). The program was a collaborative effort to make health insurance affordable and accessible for small group employers. A-CHIP would later become “ChamberCARE."

October 13, 1997 – Named #1 HMO in the Nation

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) named GHC-SCW the number one HMO in the nation for quality.

May 14, 1998 – Members Elect Providers to Board

In order to bring further success to the Cooperative, two medical Providers were added to the Board of Directors.

Spring 2002 – First Area Health Plan with Electronic Medical Records

As an innovator in health care, GHC-SCW became the first health plan in the area to launch Electronic Medical Records (EMR). The conventional paper-based system of medical records was transformed into a smarter, more dynamic electronic software-based system.

August 2003 – GHCMyChartSM Made Available to Members

GHC-SCW was the first health plan in the area to provide members with GHCMyChartSM, an online version of the electronic medical record that allows members to schedule appointments online, send messages to their provider, refill a prescription and more.

October 2004 – New Website Launch

A newly introduced website was launched, allowing members access to important information about GHC-SCW.

January 3, 2005 – Complementary Medicine Center Opens

To further our commitment to innovation in health care, GHC-SCW became the first and only health plan in the area to offer Complementary Medicine services as part of a member benefits. These services include yoga, massage therapy, acupuncture and others and are integrated with Primary Care.