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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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Comments:

edith pilkingoton

Sounds like it will be as confusing as choosing a cell phone plan. Sounds like a nightmare. Sounds like a huge give away to the insurance companies. Who will pay for the heat, rent, signage, air conditioning, maintenance and advertising for these store fronts? Sounds like a nightmare waiting to happen. I suppose not enough fat cats would get rich off a single payer plan. So now we'll have all kinds of switch and bait offers and unannounced rate increases, endless hours on the phone, wrestling with obnoxious voice recognition systems in endless attempts to speak with a disgruntled phone rep who has dealt with twenty other angry people trying to get to the bottom of why we they are suddenly paying more than we were promised things would cost.

anthony sionni

I can just imagine what the fine print will look like,going into one of these places lol.

Michael Trenn

This could have been handled like car insurance. Sell the products across state lines, and allow competition of all licensed products in all states. No big government boondoggle, though. Neither a takeover of our liberties, nor a wealth of taxpayer-funded patronage jobs would ensue.




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