1. Health Care Service Corporation
error This company may not service all states.

The Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) was founded in 1936 under a different name, the Chicago Plan for Healthcare. Three years later, it became part of the Blue Cross Blue Shield family. Many of HCSC's health insurance options are similar to BCBS plans. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, HCSC has 23,000 employees and serves 16 million members. Although BCBS is a worldwide company, this subsidiary focuses on just five states: Illinois, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Montana.

HCSC's subsidiaries include Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Prime Therapeutics, BCBS Oklahoma, and Dental Network of America.

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The Good

  • Types of Plans Offered
  • Member Resources
  • Unique Features
  • Customer Service
  • Mobile Apps

Types of Plans Offered

HCSC makes shopping for a medical insurance during the enrollment period relatively easy. First off, there's a website for each individual state serviced, so if you're looking for a plan online, you'll need to navigate to the state you live in. You'll also want to have handy your zip code, birth date, and the information for anyone who would be added onto your plan. After entering this information, a list is pulled up of plans that you qualify for. From there, it's easy to view individual plan benefits, compare plans, and decide what works best for you. Blue Directions is also a tool that potential customers can use 24/7 to ask someone for help in choosing the right plan.

The question, then, is what plans are even available through HCSC? It has a wide variety. It provides Medicare and Medicaid options, including CHIP and state plans. Depending on the state you live in, there are also short-term, international, and student options.

If you're looking for dental and vision insurance, those are options through some plans as well.

Through the Dental Network of America, the HCSC has plans termed BlueCare Dental PPOs and BlueCare Dental HMOs. PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) plans offer both in- and out-of-network coverage. HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) plans only cover in-network care.

Health Care Service Corporation offers Medicare and Medicaid. It also has a combination Medicare-Medicaid dental insurance. BlueDental plans are intended to be additions to a health plan you already have. Of course, each plan has some sort of insurance for basic, restorative, and major work, as well as some periodontics, endodontics, and oral surgeries.

The Dental Wellness Center is a website dedicated to the HCSC's dental information, and the BlueCare Dental Connection provides tools to ask a dentist a question, estimate the cost for work, and find a dentist in the network.

Vision plans are through DavisVision and includes some adult and pediatric plans. There are in- and out-of-network options and discounts on Lasik. These plans also cover eye exams, frames, and lenses. 

Member Resources

Managing your account as a member is made easy with the resources provided. Blue Access for Members is the term for the online member portal, through which patients can find providers, health centers, pharmacies, and in-network places to receive hospital services. The member portal is also useful for estimating costs for treatments, viewing prescribed medications, and checking the status of a claims or deductibles.

One unique online feature is called IVY, a virtual assistant that can help you as well. Members can sign up for mobile alerts for updates on claims when it's time to take a medication, how to manage diabetes or heart conditions, and even exercise tips.

A couple resources the HCSC has are through Blue Cross Blue Shield. One is Blue365, the member rewards program for discounts on health products, and another is the BlueCard program, which gives you nationwide coverage in case you're traveling.

Customer service isn't available 24/7 here; however, there are a couple of 24/7 services. One is a nurse hotline, and the other is called Blue Directions (the resource for customers who need help enrolling in a plan). Also available to members is a member dedicated phone number and the available through the online portal to check claims at any time. 

Unique Features

Health Care Service Corporation members benefit from its wellness tools, online resources, and mobile apps. There are several wellness programs you could enroll in as a member:

  • Well onTarget. Through this program, you take a health assessment to see where you stand. From there, you can set goals to improve the areas you want. You also have access to fitness trackers and articles about how to live a healthier life.
  • Blue Care Advisors. This gives you access to support from health professionals about how to cope with a chronic illness or manage another complicated health program. Health coaching can be a great way to stay accountable for your health and the ways you need to take care of yourself day by day.

There are also groups you can get involved in if you're trying to quit smoking or lose weight or make another lifestyle change. These changes can be hard to make on your own, so group support and accountability can make a huge difference. The idea here, of course, is to help members get healthier and stay healthy, not to have false starts or to get discouraged.

If you're shopping for a plan or managing your account online, you can use tools like the provider search or the state-specific websites devoted to health plans and policies specific to each state in the HCSC network. The provider search makes it easy to find an in-network physician or other health care professional.

Customer Service

This insurer prides itself on being customer-owned. The owners of it, then, are not healthcare providers but consider themselves consumers. In that sense, they feel they can empathize with customers and better anticipate the needs they will have. They also value respect and commitment, both important attributes in customer service representatives. They want their customers to feel this positive attitude and feel taken care of.

You can contact the insurance company through phone, email, addresses, and even technical tools like IVY (the virtual assistant), the 24/7 nurse, and tools like Blue Directions. Plans and policies are specific to each state, so for your convenience, the company has created a website for each state's information to make shopping for plans even easier. In these ways, the company is more organized, which helps clarify the customer experience.

Clarity is important in this somewhat confusing industry. It also speaks well of the company that it has been in business for 79 years, that it is backed by the credible BlueCross BlueShield family, and that the company focuses all its efforts on these five states, making them somewhat of an expert on health care in this area of the country. 

Mobile Apps

HCSC has not one but three apps that add convenience and speed to managing your account and your health. HCSCIL is the app for Illinois (though there's a parallel app for each state serviced) through which members check claims and deductible statuses, find providers, and more. The Health Family App tracks your individual family members' health schedules, and the Centered app offers tips for meditation and other stress management techniques.

The Bad

  • Available States
  • Business Hours Customer Support

Available States

These health plans are only available in five states (Illinois, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Montana), which makes the company useless to anyone in other states. The types of individual and family plans you can choose from are individual to each state:

  • Illinois plans include PPOs, HMOs, and HSAs. Metal tiers include bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.
  • Montana plans include PPOs and POSs (Point of Service plans). These come in bronze, silver, and gold tiers.
  • New Mexico plans are limited to HMOs, but there are also short-term and international plans available.
  • Oklahoma offers only PPOs in bronze, silver, and gold tiers.
  • Texas has HMOs as well, available in just bronze, silver, and gold.

Across the board, HCSC offers a wide variety of health plans, but each state has its own limitations. For example, New Mexico and Texas only have HMOs and not PPOs, and Oklahoma has only PPOs and not HMOs. Also, there are no platinum plans in any state except for Illinois.

Business Hours Customer Support

Even though there are a couple of 24/7 member services, customer support itself is only available during certain business hours.

The Bottom Line

Overall, the Health Care Service Corporation offers the benefits of a worldwide company while operating as a more local business. As long as you live in one of the five states in which their plans are available, HCSC is an excellent company to get health insurance from. Customer service, though not available 24/7, is very helpful. Health Care Service Corporation also makes shopping for plans relatively easy.

As a member, you would enjoy lots of health benefits, discounts, and convenience from tools like mobile apps as well. In addition, it speaks well of the business that it has been around for so many decades and have partnered with reliable organizations like BlueCross BlueShield to provide customers with the best options possible. 

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Anna

December 2nd, 2015

They discriminate against the individual market by offering less and worse choice in the provider networks than groups have. This is disturbingly negative for self-employed professionals and trades as well as for early retired.

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