The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) is one of the most recognized names in health insurance not only in the United States, but worldwide. Blue Cross Blue Shield has a presence in over 170 countries throughout the world. The U.S. federation consists of 38 separate health insurance organizations located throughout the United States. More than 99 million Americans can claims to be insured by Blue Cross Blue Shield through the membership of all locations combined.
Blue Cross Blue Shield’s history dates back to 1929 when Justin Ford Kimball first started a health insurance company for teachers. It was called Blue Cross. The Blue Shield was originally an insurance plan for employers of mining camps in the Pacific Northwest. The employers paid their monthly fees to groups of physicians for employee coverage. These two companies would merge and in 1982, the official name of the association became Blue Cross Blue Shield.
The company’s headquarters is in Chicago, Illinois. The President and CEO is Scott Serota. Blue Cross Blue Shield has annual revenue of over $320 million. Through the combined efforts of all 39 U.S. companies, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association has health insurance products available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Blue Cross Blue Shield is the provider for the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan. The Federal Employee Program is the single largest health plan group in the world. Blue Cross Blue Shield is also a Medicare contractor for the federal government and processes more than 190 million claims from hospitals each year. There are several single-state association members as well as the multi-state groups of WellPOint, CareFirst, The Regence Group and Health Care Service Corporation.
Financial Strength and Customer Satisfaction
Because Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is comprised of 39 separate insurance companies, there is no one financial strength rating given by a financial rating organization. However, A.M. Best has rated the majority of Blue Cross Blue Shield companies with an “A+” Excellent rating.
With 39 different companies, customer satisfaction ratings will vary based on the individual company you are using. Insure.com has customer satisfaction survey for the different locations varying from 60% to 80% customer satisfaction rating. The Better Business Bureau has listings for each specific Blue Cross Blue Shield location.
Health Insurance Options
There are many options for your health insurance needs through a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan no matter your individual family situation or budget. Here are some of the most popular plans along with their perks.
HSA and FSA Accounts
FSA plans are great for families with a limited budget but who still need to buy a health insurance policy. The FSA is an account where you can save money tax-free to apply to your health insurance deductible or other health insurance related expenses. You can have your money deducted directly from your paycheck if you choose. Blue Cross Blue Shield has its own bank which administers this plan. It is the Blue Healthcare Bank. The bank assists members with deposits, withdrawals and any other questions or assistance needed.
The HSA account is similar to the FSA, but money can only be used for medically qualifying expenses. Many people use these accounts to save up money to apply toward a high-deductible policy. The advantage is you can still save money toward a deductible and also enjoy the low premium cost of a high-deductible health insurance policy. HSA plans are tax-deductible.
Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRA)
This is a plan for employers who may not be able to afford to provide full health benefits to employees but still want to offer some type of health benefit. A pre-determined amount of money will be disbursed to employees for special medical expenses for himself or his family including prescriptions, co-payments or other types of medical expenses.
HMO and PPO Plans
A Blue Cross Blue Shield HMO plan allows comprehensive medical coverage at low costs by having members use only providers inside the health maintenance organization. The savings by using an HMO plan can be quite significant. The PPO plan is similar but offers a little more flexibility. With a PPO, you may go out-of-network for service, although less of these expenses will be covered.
Pros and Cons
- The majority of healthcare providers and doctors will accept Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance
- Well established company with excellent financial strength
- A variety of healthcare plans and HSA plans available
- There is not much information on the main website about insurance products, for specific information, you must visit the individual company websites.
- The company is very large and some feel there is not enough individualized customer service.
Company Contact Information
To find out how to contact a local Blue Cross Blue Shield Company for health insurance quotes and information about its insurance products, you can visit the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association website or call 888-630-BLUE (2583).