Unveiling the Blue Cross Blue Shield Mystery

Over 35 companies have licensed the right to use the Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield name in exclusive geographic areas. For agents that only work in one state, expanding into a new state brings many assumptions about Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The assumptions are usually wrong! Agents who sell from a call-center or sell in many states, get confused about who these different companies really are. Many of these companies are actually competitors, yet the public lumps them all into one bucket. When I was a new agent, what I found most confusing is that in some states there are SEPARATE companies using the license.

Learn From My Past Mistake

I embarrassed myself years ago talking to a client and using the generic “Blue Cross” abbreviation to talk about Anthem (the nation’s largest BCBS organization). The person asked me, which one are you selling? Which one—I said BCBS. He persisted, “We have Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western NY, Highmark Blue Shield of Northeastern NY, Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield and of course, Anthem.” Anthem was the company I was actually trying to pitch to him. The last blow to my credibility came when I realize that in New York, Anthem isn’t called Anthem. It’s Empire.

No, he didn’t end us working with me. But I learned the lay of the land and am here to teach new agents how it works (and how to avoid embarrassing themselves). At this point, only 7 states have more than one company using the license: CA, ID, MO, NY, PA, VA and WA. For example, see PA below:

For more information on the Blue Cross Blue Shield mystery check out our YouTube video.



Sylvia Gordon and her sister, Rebecca, run Gordon Marketing, one of the nation’s largest Medicare FMO/NMA offices. They have a team of over 100 that train and support independent insurance agents in all 50 states. You can find Sylvia’s weekly posts on LinkedIn and the sisters' Youtube channel posts 2 training videos each week. Contact Sylvia at sgordon@gordonmarketing.com or 800-388-8342.


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