Consumers flock to health insurance storefronts


Brick-and-mortar health insurance stores are becoming more popular and accessible, reports LifeHealthPro. Conveniently located in local shopping centers across the country, the retail stores offer experience, guidance and basic customer service to help people shop for or learn about health plans.

The storefronts also offer personal face-to-face time for customers, something the online exchanges lack.

"We can see, in certain settings, there is a definite need for personal interaction," UnitedHealth Group Chief Consumer Officer Tom Paul told LifeHealthPro. "In some cases, with language or economic barriers, having a store that they can walk into is the best way for them to get engaged--in a physical space."

That's why Minneapolis-based UnitedHealth's outlet in Queens, New York, offers assistance in the eight different languages and Chinese dialects spoken in the neighborhood, according to the article.

As storefronts continue to pop up around the country, some people are concerned retail shops will take away from brokers' business. And consumer advocates worry the uninsured will frequent the stores to look at one brand and neglect using the online marketplaces for a wide range of coverage options, according to the article.

Payers have certain challenges in the consumer-driven market, such as business models changing from employer-centered to consumer-oriented and competing on value and consumer-focused offerings, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. To meet these challenges, payers must show customers the value of their products. Retail sites, mobile or brick-and-mortar, allow insurers to do so. For example, Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia outfitted a truck to bring education and enrollment activities to its community.

"We want to make sure we put up products that are affordable and offer choice,"IBC Senior Vice President of Marketing and Consumer Business Brian Lobley previously told FieceHealthPayer. "The uninsured is a very important segment of the population--we need to be there for them so they have something they can buy," he said.

For more:
- read the LifeHealthPro article

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