Michigan's largest health insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield has said that it will reissue four million new identity cards in order to comply with new laws which are aimed at reducing identity theft.

In accordance with new regulations, Blue Cross will no longer provide Social Security numbers on the identity cards. The insurer said that as part of the general effort to reduce the public use of Social Security numbers, it would use randomly selected member contract numbers on the cards instead.

The new cards will be sent to members between now and the end of 2005, with many members receiving their cards at their employer group’s annual renewal time. An estimated 400,000 new cards will be distributed each month until all members have new cards for use by the start of 2006.

The Michigan Blues began the card conversion process in 2004, and so far have issued more than 1 million new cards to members in national employer groups and to members in states outside of Michigan whose new laws now require the change.

We refreshed ID cards in the past to reflect a new feature or design, but it’s never been more important that our members take note of this effort and destroy their old cards, commented Jeanne Carlson, Blue Care Network senior vice president.