The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) has taken a proactive step to prevent its members from having their identities stolen by offering identity theft protection services to its 106 million members.
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is one of the nation’s largest health insurers, providing insurance services to one in three Americans via a network of 36 community-based companies.
According to Scott P. Serota, BCBSA President and CEO, “For more than 85 years, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield brand has meant security and stability for the members we serve, and we are dedicated to putting our customers’ privacy at the forefront of our efforts.” He went on to say that “this effort is part of our focus on applying cutting-edge security practices and protocols for Blue companies.”
Following a number of large scale data breaches suffered by BCBSA companies over the past months, many members will already have been offered credit protection and identity theft services already as part of the BCBSA risk mitigation response to data breaches. However, extending identity theft protection services to all members will come at a considerable cost. That cost is considered to be more than worthwhile for the peace of mind it will give to plan members.
It may not be possible to prevent hackers from gaining access to data in all instances, but it is possible to protect patients and health plan members from fraud. Whether other insurers follow suit remains to be seen.
Credit Monitoring, Fraud Detection and Fraud Resolution Services will be Offered
The fraud and identity theft protection services being offered include credit monitoring services, which track applications for credit. This means that credit checks, and obtaining credit and loans, may take longer than if the services are not activated, but it will not affect credit scores.
Fraud detection services are also being provided, and plan members will receive regular alerts if any suspicious activity is detected on their accounts – such as applications for credit cards and loans. Should fraud be detected, plan members will receive assistance to get their identities and credit restored.
Some plan members will not be eligible for the services. BCBSA provides insurance policies via employers: Should an employer decline the services, all employees who are part of that scheme will not be able to take part. In some cases, contractual and regulatory problems will also prevent the services from being offered. However, all other individuals who have a health insurance policy provided by a Blue Cross Blue Shield company will be able to sign up for the identity theft protection services provided their policy is current as of January 1, 2016.
The BCBSA identity theft protection services are not automatically activated due to privacy issues; members must sign up for the services individually. Information will be sent to all plan members with further information over the coming months, with the services scheduled to commence from January 1, 2016