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Blue Cross Blue Shield of WNY gives free local benefits to members

Avery Schneider

220,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield subscribers in Western New York will soon receive a “Blue Box” filled with two-for-one dining cards.

Blue Cross has teamed up with City Dining Cards to offer over $1000 in savings to its members at dining, entertainment, and activity venues around the region. BCBS CEO, Dave Anderson, spent Friday afternoon delivering the first of the boxes, and says it is part of a movement in the healthcare industry towards direct involvement with consumers.

“To get that connection with the member is becoming increasingly important, and we are beginning to initiate that process with our blue box,” said Anderson.

He says Blue Cross wants its members to get value out of their health plan for reasons other than just going to their doctors, and it is not only about the discounts.

“We want a positive impact and if we can move them towards a healthier lifestyle then I think we both win,” Anderson said.

Credit Avery Schneider / WBFO News
BCBS of WNY CEO Dave Anderson presents one of the first Blue Boxes to Harborcenter President, John Koelmel.

Anderson was apt to point out that the benefit of the cards is not restricted only to the customers.

“What it does is encourage utilization for individuals to go to many – over 1000 sites – in Western New York, to go and utilize their services or go to their restaurant and buy their meals. So it’s a bit of a business generator as well,” he said.

This is the first partnership of a health plan with a city dining card company in order to promote healthy activities, according to Anderson.

In Buffalo’s Canalside area, where some of the first Blue Boxes were handed out, Steve and Michelle Biegner of Clarence Center say that if their provider offered such a program, they would take advantage of it.

“I would use it, sure,” said Michelle Biegner.

“Yes, I mean active stuff, food, getting people downtown would be great,” Steve Biegner said.

The box also has information to help members understand their health plan. Anderson says there is an equal emphasis on healthy activities and the other benefits of the Blue Box.

Avery began his broadcasting career as a disc jockey for WRUB, the University at Buffalo’s student-run radio station.