CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee announced today that it has been awarded accreditation in the areas of Health Utilization Management, Health Provider Credentialing, and Core standards by URAC (also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission), a leading health care accrediting body.

This award marks a string of consecutive years BlueCross has earned the coveted two-year accreditation. The company first received accreditation for Health Utilization Management in 1993, followed by credentialing certification in 1995.

In addition to these three service areas, BlueCross currently holds URAC accreditation for its Case Management program and Health Web site for the Your Health Resources member section.

"Quality products and services are a top priority for us," said Dr. Steve Coulter, senior vice president and chief medical officer for BlueCross. "Health care stakeholders across Tennessee should feel confident that theyíre receiving service that has met nationally recognized standards for quality and accountability."

The accreditation process takes approximately three to six months to complete and consists of a rigorous desktop, onsite, and committee review of an organizationís structure and operations.

"By applying for and receiving URAC accreditation, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee has demonstrated a commitment to quality health care. Quality health care is crucial to our nationís welfare, and it is important to have organizations that are willing to measure themselves against national standards," said Garry Carneal, president and CEO of URAC.

URAC is a leader in the accreditation of health and managed care organizations. Founded in 1990, URAC currently offers 16 accreditation programs that span a broad spectrum of health care services. URAC has issued over 2,300 accreditation certificates to more than 500 health care programs. URAC-accredited organizations do business in all 50 states and provide services to more than 150 million Americans.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.