CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – To help protect members against identity theft, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) announced that it is dropping Social Security numbers as the basis for member ID numbers.
BCBSNC will transition to non–SSN identification numbers for all members beginning in April and concluding on January 1, 2006. By that date, all members will be assigned a unique ID number that does not include the SSN. All member ID cards will contain the new numbers, which will also be used in relevant correspondence with members and health care providers. All Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans nationwide are making similar changes.
"These changes will help reduce the risk that a member’s health insurance correspondence could be used to steal their identity and affect their credit rating, even if the correspondence is lost or stolen," said Harry Reynolds, BCBSNC vice president and information compliance officer. "Protecting our members personal information is one of our most important responsibilities, and developing new ID numbers is an important safeguard."
The change will apply to all BCBSNC employer group and individual products. BCBSNC will replace the 9–digit Social Security number in the ID number with the letter "W" and eight numbers. The company will retain the non–SSN prefixes and suffixes that are already part of the member ID number.
BCBSNC began its anti–identify theft efforts in 2003, when it removed Social Security numbers from Explanation of Benefit (EOB) statements, which members receive after claims are processed.
"Identity theft has not been a prevalent problem for our members, but we want to do all that we can to protect them," Reynolds said.
Members will receive new ID cards with the new numbers by the end of the transition period. Most members will receive the cards around the time their policy is renewed. To help protect against identify theft and to ensure that members can take full advantage of their benefits, BCBSNC always advises members to destroy any old member ID cards when they receive new ones.
The change also includes the member ID numbers of participants in the State Health Plan. The Federal Employee Program is not affected because it does not currently use SSN–based numbers.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina:
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is a leader in delivering innovative health care products, services and information to more than 3.1 million members, including approximately 549,000 served on behalf of other Blue Plans. The company offers its members the Blue ExtrasSM value–added programs, which provide discounts and information on a wide variety of health–related services at no additional cost. BCBSNC also offers life, dental, long–term care and disability insurance products. For 71 years, the company has served its customers by offering health insurance at a competitive price and has served the people of North Carolina through support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health.
BCBSNC’s HMO product has earned Excellent Accreditation from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), an independent, not–for–profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of health care. BCBSNC also has North Carolina’s first and only NCQA accredited PPO plan – Blue OptionsSM. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Access BCBSNC online at