Care1st History

We're not the biggest or the oldest. We're just out to be the best.

Care1st Health Plan (“Care1st”) was created in 1994 by a group of health professionals from medical groups and hospitals with long histories of serving the under-served market. The founding physicians still practice medicine today and are actively involved in the daily operations of Care1st - which believes “patients come first” and aligns with their strong desire to see health care administered from a physician’s perspective.

Initially begun as a Medicaid Plan, Care1st has experienced consistent historical growth in its provider relationships, health care program participation and total membership.  Today as a full service health plan offering multiple health care options that include Medicare, Medi-Cal Health, Medi-Cal Dental, Healthy Families and Commercial coverage, Care1st serves over 320,000 Californians.    

In addition to California, Care1st established an Arizona subsidiary (in 2003) after being selected by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) to provide services to Medicaid members in that state. Today, approximately 50,000 Arizonans have their health care services managed through Care1st.

Care1st has always focused on providing under-served communities with the kind of coverage, service and attention that is often found in higher income areas. The Plan takes pride in being a multi-ethnic organization, with both executives and employees representing a tapestry of all of California’s diverse communities. An Advisory Committee consisting of representatives of Hispanic, Chinese, Vietnamese, African-American, Cambodian, Armenian and Filipino community based organizations (CBOs) monitor and advise Care1st on strategies to provide such services.

One highpoint in Care1st’s history was receiving a three-year Commendable Accreditation from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), in 2008, for both its Medicare Advantage, and Medi-Cal plans. NCQA is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. NCQA Accreditation standards are intended to help organizations achieve the highest level of quality service and care.


Milestones in the History of Care1st.

  • 1994: Care1st established as a California corporation
  • 1995: Receives California full service health plan ("Knox-Keene") license
  • 1995: Enters into a Service Agreement with LA Care to provide health care services to eligible Medi-Cal enrollees, and is now a top choice for voluntary selection.
  • 2000: Receives direct HFP contract from the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board (“MRMIB”)
  • 2001: Acquires contract between Maxicare and L.A. Care
  • 2001: Adopts National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services ("CLAS Standards")
  • 2002: Designated by MRMIB to be the administrator of its Access for Infants and Mothers ("AIM") program
  • 2003: Selected by Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), the State of Arizona’s Medicaid management agency, to provide services to Medicaid eligibles
  • 2005: Awarded Geographic Managed Care (“GMC”) contract by the California Department of Health Care Services (“DHCS”) to provide health care services to Medi-Cal beneficiaries in San Diego County
  • 2005: Granted license by CMS to be MAPD-SNP Plan provider in Maricopa County, in the State of Arizona
  • 2006: Acquires UHP Healthcare’s Medi-Cal, Medi-Cal Dental, Medicare and Commercial lines of business
  • 2006: Granted license by CMS to be MAPD-SNP Plan provider in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Orange Counties
  • 2008: Receives the Senior Choice Gold Award for Excellence in 2009 Medicare Plan Benefits
  • 2008: Receives a three-year Commendable Accreditation from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA)  for Medicare and Medi-Cal
  • 2008: Receives NCQA HEDIS Compliance Audit Seal
  • 2009: Granted license by CMS to be MAPD Plan provider in Riverside County
  • 2010: Granted license by CMS to be MAPD Plan provider in Santa Clara County
  • 2011: Granted license by CMS to be MAPD Plan provider in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties
  • 2011: Receives a three-year Commendable Re-Accreditation from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) for Medicare and Medi-Cal
  • 2011: Receives a three–year Medicare Advantage Deemed status from National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA)
  • 2011: Receives NCQA HEDIS Compliance Audit Seal
  • 2012: Receives the Senior Choice Gold Award for Excellence in 2012 Medicare Plan Benefits
  • 2012: Selected by the California Department of Health Care Services (“DHCS”) to participate as a health plan in San Diego County’s Dual Eligible Demonstration Pilot Project
  • 2012-2013: NCQA’s Medicaid Health Insurance I Rankings: Ranked as “Top Medicaid in California”
  • 2013: Receives the Senior Choice Gold Award for Excellence in 2013 Medicare Plan Benefits in 3 counties
  • 2013: Granted license by CMS to be MAPD and D-SNP plan provider in Alameda and San Francisco counties
  • 2013 -2014: NCQA’s Medicaid Health Insurance I Rankings: Ranked as “Top Medicaid in California”
  • 2014: Granted license by CMS to be MAPD Plan provider in Kern and Fresno counties
  • 2014: Receives the Senior Choice Gold Award for Excellence in 2014 Medicare Plan Benefits in 6 counties