What Is an Insurance Card BIN Number?

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Every prescription card has a BIN.
Every prescription card has a BIN. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

If you have health insurance you probably have a health insurance card as well. On this card are a series of numbers and codes used by pharmacies to streamline the process of managing prescription insurance claims. These numbers may be referred to as a BIN.

What's a BIN?

The BIN, or bank identification number on your health insurance card, is a six-digit number that tells the computer database at the pharmacy which health insurance provider is to receive the claim for your prescription. The acronym BIN was established in the banking industry and carried over to the health insurance industry when cards were first issued. So despite the name, banks are not involved in the insurance billing process.

Card

When you go to the pharmacy to have a prescription filled, one of the first things the pharmacist usually asks for is your insurance card. Many health insurance cards have your policy number on them, as well as your prescription BIN, but some insurers issue prescription cards separately. The pharmacy uses your BIN to identify which insurer needs to reimburse the pharmacy for the cost of your medications. Most pharmacies have a list of BINs technicians enter into a computer database when you make your purchase.

Uses

When a policy holder makes a claim, a great deal of information is processed among the insurer, claimants and medical personnel. Likewise, large chain pharmacies may fill and process thousands of prescriptions and claims each day. BINs allow pharmacies to quickly and easily identify which insurers need to be billed. This allows a pharmacy to ensure it is correctly reimbursed in a timely and efficient manner.

Future

While BINs are most commonly used in the health care and banking industries, they are also increasingly being used by other industries that utilize customer cards or card based transactions. BIN usage can help companies reduce fraud and theft and allow consumers to make purchase claims and transactions that are relatively hassle-free.

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