Understanding Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance

Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance is available to most people in the USA, so it makes sense to consider this provider’s plans as you shop for healthcare coverage. This guide will help you understand more about Blue Cross Blue Shield and health insurance in general.

What Is Blue Cross Blue Shield?

Blue Cross Blue Shield is the name of a conglomerate of similarly named health insurance companies that operate in all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. There are more than 30 distinct health insurance companies that make up the Blue Cross Blue Shield system. Some of these individual companies cover multiple states, but many Blue Cross Blue Shield companies cover only one state. These companies usually carry some part of the parent organization’s name, often with additional names like Anthem or Regence plus a specific state. For example, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Colorado provides coverage in Colorado, and Regence BlueShield of Idaho provides coverage in Idaho. Some Blue Cross Blue Shield companies carry only part of that combination of names, like Blue Shield of California.

Understanding Different Coverage Tiers

Once you find the Blue Cross Blue Shield company that covers your state, district or territory, you may want to shop based on coverage tier. Different health insurance plans are stratified into tiers, most of which are assigned a specific metal color in order to signify the amount of coverage they provide. Bronze-tier plans provide the least amount of coverage, while Silver, Gold and Platinum plans provide successively more coverage. Monthly costs tend to get higher the further up the tiers you go, but in exchange you generally have to pay less out of pocket for these plans.

Plans for Individuals

It’s also important to understand whether you need to sign up for an individual plan. If you don’t get insurance through an employer and you don’t have a parent or spouse who can cover you with their employer-sponsored plan, you’ll need to purchase an individual plan. Your local Blue Cross Blue Shield provider may or may not have a variety of different individual plans to choose from.

Common Insurance Terminology

While shopping for health insurance, it’s important to understand basic terminology, which Blue Cross Blue Shield and other providers will commonly use. A premium is the monthly fee you pay for coverage. Copays are pre-determined fees you’ll need to pay for different types of medical care. A deductible is an amount you must spend on care before coverage applies.

Finding the Right Coverage for You

Though Blue Cross Blue Shield companies do provide coverage across most of the states, this company may not offer the right coverage based on your needs. It’s important to shop around not only between different plans but also between different insurance companies. You should weigh factors like monthly premiums, out-of-pocket costs, scope of coverage and whether your trusted healthcare providers are in-network with a particular insurer. You can also give an insurer’s customer service department a call to see whether they seem helpful or whether it’s a difficult system to deal with and use that as part of your decision.