Smart Benefits: Health Insurers Go Retail
Monday, October 21, 2013
A Regional and National Trend
The insurers, many of whom are participating on the federal and state exchanges, know they need to build relationships with these individuals, many of whom previously had employer coverage, and are looking to malls as a good place to start.
- UnitedHealthcare currently has 20 retail locations nationally spanning from New York to California.
- In Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, Fallon Community Health Plan offers a retail information center at the White City Shopping Center.
- Several Blue Cross Blue Shield plans across the country have opened stores as well, the latest of which is in Rhode Island.
First RI Outlet Opens
Blue Cross Blue Shield of RI last week unveiled its first retail location, The Blue Advantage Center, at Cowesset Corners in Warwick. At the location, Rhode Islanders can purchase a health plan for themselves or their family, explore their Medicare options or get assistance with their current BCBSRI plan.
According to Peter Andruszkiewicz, president and CEO of BCBSRI, “Health insurance hasn’t been thought of as something we typically ‘shop’ for, like clothes or groceries. With the effects of healthcare reform, people have more choices than ever before and more ways to purchase insurance; they will review the options and select the plan that’s the best fit. With Rhode Islanders playing a more active role in the health insurance process, The Blue Advantage Center aims to be another outlet/resource for them as they shop, providing them with a place to meet with a salesperson, ask questions and discuss their decision.”
Offering More than Information
Insurers know it can be difficult to talk about healthcare with consumers because of the complexity involved. By offering retail settings with friendly, approachable staff, the carriers are aiming to remove some of the mystery that surrounds the topic. And many are finding that a good way to do this is to provide more than information and engage shoppers with activities like biometric health screenings stations, healthy cooking demos and onsite wellness classes.
Good for Business
It’s not just consumers who benefit from the new outlets; the stores enable the carriers to embed themselves in the community and strengthen their relationships with customers. That’s why insurers are just the latest in a line of industries to go local – like the return of the community bank.
So watch for a health insurance retailer coming soon to your neighborhood.
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