Coming Soon: New Member ID Cards with Bar Code Technology
Beginning August 1, 2011, the back of member ID cards will be printed with a bar code instead of a magnetic stripe, a move that will make it more convenient for members to share benefit information with their health care providers. (View sample ID Card. )
The bar code will carry the same information as the magnetic stripe, including the subscriber name and ID number, plan and date of birth. Unlike the magnetic stripe, which requires the member to have the card in hand when using it, the bar code technology allows the member either to use the card itself or to present an image of the bar code (e.g., as an image on a smartphone or as a photocopy) to a provider who has the proper scanning technology.
What's a bar code? A bar code is a series of parallel lines that can be read by an optical scanner and decoded by a computer into usable information. Bar codes are found on a wide variety of everyday products — from clothes to food to medication.
In addition to providing an additional convenience to members, the new bar code technology will make the ID cards more eco-friendly. The card will be thinner yet durable, and by removing the petroleum-based magnetic stripe, it better serves the environment.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) will introduce the bar code to member IDs of its regular group business; labor accounts and consumer markets will not be affected. Any member ID card that is produced for new or existing group members after August 1, 2011, will include the bar code. Cards for existing members will not be reissued to accommodate this format.
BCBSIL will announce the switch to the bar code technology on its member, employer and provider websites.