One of the most consumer misunderstandings about health insurance plans with the Blue Cross Blue Shield name is that these plans all come from the same company. The reality is that there are several dozen companies that offer plans using the "Blue Cross" and/or "Blue Shield" names and these plans can differ in cost and quality.
Blue Cross Blue Shield is "37 independently operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield member companies, a Federal Employee Program and an Association, which serves the collective needs of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans".1 Some are non-profit companies and some are for-profit companies. Some of the companies operate only within one state while others operate in multiple states. There are also instances where separate Blue companies compete against one another in the same state. For example, California has "Blue Shield of California" and "Anthem Blue Cross." Likewise, Idaho, has "BlueCross of Idaho" as well as "Regence BlueShield of Idaho."
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is the entity that licenses the use of the Blue Cross Blue Shield trademarks to the various companies with which it does business.2
Over 100 million Americans are enrolled in Blue Cross Blue Shield health plans across every state and the District of Columbia. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association claims that in the United States "more than 96% of hospitals and 91% of professional providers contract directly with Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies."3
Given the numerous insurance companies using the Blue Cross Blue Shield name, there are a variety of Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare insurance products including Part D prescription drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans. There are also Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Supplement products. Medicare Supplement is also known by the name "Medigap." There are 10 standard Medicare Supplement plans used by 47 states. Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have their own unique Medicare Supplement plan designs.
Below is a list of Blue Cross Blue Shield brands in the United States:
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