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Analysis: Blue Cross Blue Shield tops at retaining members Posted: January 6th, 2011

By Maryalene LaPonsie

Covering more than half of all commercially insured individuals in the United States, Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliates have done a better job of maintaining their enrollment numbers than other private health insurance companies. That's the finding of a report published by Mark Farrah Associates, a Maine-based healthcare industry research firm.

With 96.3 million individuals enrolled in Blue Cross Blue Shield plans as of September 2010, Blues affiliates saw their membership drop by 1.1 percent from September 2009, according to the Mark Farrah report. Meanwhile, the number of individuals enrolled in other private health plans dropped 2.2% - from 127.7 million to 124.9 million - during that same period.

Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliates get a boost from the Federal Employment Program (FEP). Offered through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), the FEP enrolls 67 percent of federal government employees, retirees and their families. Of the 7.9 million eligible for medical coverage through the FEHBP, 5.3 million receive insurance through a Blue Cross or Blue Shield plan.

Overall, Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliates provide insurance or administer health plans for 38 percent of Americans. Half of the companies' membership is through self-funded or Administrative Services Only (ASO) plans.