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Smart Benefits: Health Insurance Stores? Yes.

Monday, January 14, 2013

 

Health insurance storefronts are opening in other states to capture the 85 million consumers who will be left on their own to purchase health insurance in the coming years.

As public exchanges ready to get off the ground in 2014, the states plan to launch new technology to guide consumers through the complicated health insurance maze with robust web portals and telephonic support to help them with plan design selection and understanding costs. But certain insurers are opting more a more personal approach to reach the consumer: retail store fronts. 

UnitedHealthcare, the biggest insurer in the United States, recognizes that as many as 85 million consumers may soon be left on their own to purchase insurance. Since employers previously made decisions about benefits and provided education to these consumers, many will now be left without help. To address their needs, UnitedHealthcare’s opened eight retail stores in major metropolitan cities across the country, including Queens, NY, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. And BCBS of Florida has launched 11 of their own stores throughout that state. 

On Store Shelves

So what appeal do these retail outlets hold for the consumer?  Besides getting help with plans and costs, there's a lot more to do in the store:

  • biometric health stations
  • healthy cooking demonstrations
  • onsite wellness programs
  • knowledge stations
  • seminars

There are even experts onsite who can help with Medicare questions.

The Benefits?

The carriers are taking the mystery and complexity out of insurance by making it more tangible in a friendly and approachable environment. And it’s not just consumers who benefit from the new outlets; the new stores enable the carriers to embed themselves in the community and strengthen the relationships with their customers. 

We've seen similar trends in other industries - like the return of the community bank – so these carriers may be on to something. Watch for a health insurance retailer coming soon to your neighborhood. 

Amy Gallagher has over 19 years of healthcare industry experience. As Vice President at Cornerstone Group, she advises large employers on long-term cost-containment strategies, consumer-driven solutions and results-driven wellness programs. Amy speaks regularly on a variety of healthcare-related topics, is a member of local organizations like the Rhode Island Business Group on Health, HRM-RI, SHRM, WELCOA, and the Rhode Island Business Healthcare Advisory Council, and participates in the Lieutenant Governor’s Health Benefits Exchange work group of the Health Care Reform Commission.

 

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