Coming Aug. 1: New member ID cards with bar code technology

Beginning Aug. 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.

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.

Members who become enrolled in Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) health coverage on or after Aug. 1, 2011, will receive bar-coded ID cards. Members who currently have the magnetic stripes on their card will receive the bar-coded cards upon annual renewal.

BCBSTX will alert members, employers and providers of the pending change in member ID cards on its public and secure websites as well as through its various publications.