Blue Cross Blue Shield — Overview

Blue Cross Blue Shield is one of the largest health insurance companies in the US.

Published September 18, 2019

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About

The Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) Association is a federation of thirty-six health insurance organizations and companies. The traces of the Association go back to 1929, with the founding of Blue Cross. Blue Cross became an association in 1960 and merged with the Blue Shield Association in 1982, forming one of the largest health insurance providers in the United States. Major BCBS health insurance companies include Anthem, CareFirst, Regence, and Highmark.

See our comprehensive review here

Special features

Blue Cross Blue Shield and its associated companies form one of the largest health insurance providers in the country, currently providing insurance in all fifty states and abroad. Because of its wide reach, Blue Cross Blue Shield customers have access to many health care providers in their local areas. According to Blue Cross Blue Shield statistics, 96% of all U.S. hospitals and 95% of U.S. physicians are included in Blue Cross Blue Shield plans.

Prescriptions & drugs

In general, Blue Cross Blue Shield provides coverage for both generic and brand name drugs. The exact drugs covered by an individual Blue Cross Blue Shield plan will depend on the state you live in and the type of plan; you can find your state’s drug list (also called a formulary) on your local company’s website. In general, if a drug is not covered by your plan’s formulary, you may be able to purchase it at a higher price.

Learn more about prescription drug coverage.

Enrollment process

You can browse all plans on the Obamacare health insurance marketplace on healthcare.gov, and sort and filter those plans based on your preferences and budget.

Once you’ve selected a health insurance plan, enrolling in that plan is easy. You fill out a short online form, then complete the final step with a quick enrollment phone call with a licensed agent. On that call, the licensed agent will verify your identity, double-check eligibility and answer any questions you may have. For certain insurers, who don’t permit private brokers to enroll customers, you’ll have to enroll directly with the insurer or on your state’s marketplace (these plans will be noted).

After you enroll in a health insurance plan, you will get your membership materials (including your member ID card) and the first premium bill directly from the health insurance company. You are responsible for paying the bill to ensure that your coverage goes into effect, and to keep current on those payments.

Claims process

If you get care through a Blue Cross Blue Shield network provider, they should file your claim for you. If they do not file your claim, you need to file your claim with your local Blue Cross Blue Shield company. Click here for the full list of Blue Cross Blue Shield companies and links to their websites. On this site, look for the claim form. Generally, you need to send this form along with your original bill to your local company. If you have questions, call the number on the back of your insurance card.

Contact information

Blue Cross Blue Shield review

For breadth of provider network, a Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) plan is tough to beat. An estimated one in three Americans is covered by a BCBS plan. BCBS companies operate in all 50 states, including Washington DC, which facilitates getting in-network care if you’re traveling out of state. The BCBS companies are also generally highly rated for affordability and financial stability.

Basics & ratings

FoundedJD Power Rating# of PolicyholdersA.M. Best Rating
19293 out of 5106 millionA

Overall score

We evaluated this health insurance company using publicly available data on patient care & satisfaction, customer service and costs (premiums) versus similar plans on the market.

Quality & SatisfactionAffordability
4 out of 54 out of 5

Other health insurance companies

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