How a health insurance retail store fulfills its business promise

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee says its brick-and-mortar retail store has fulfilled its business promise and provided consumers with several benefits, reported the Nashville Business Journal.

When the Tennessee Blues insurer considered opening a retail store in Nashville, it was taking an unusual step in 2012, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. Since then, several insurers, including UnitedHealth, have set up stores in shopping centers across the country.

Operating the retail store has been an "enlightening experience," Carla Raynor, vice president of strategic marketing for Blue Cross, told the Business Journal. "It really has helped us be even more consumer-friendly and more competitive in understanding market dynamics."

Blue Cross originally intended the retail store primarily to be an information center, allowing employees to answer existing members' questions and help nonmembers with any assistance needed to buy plans. Raynor said the store's employees also handled questions about the state's Medicaid program.

The retail center met its internal sign-up goal. What's more, about 60 percent of all the retail visitors weren't already Blue Cross members, Raynor said, giving the insurer the opportunity to talk to prospective consumers.

Overall, the retail store has "definitely proved its business case" for Blue Cross, Raynor said--but the insurer hasn't drawn any definitive conclusions regarding its future. Along with the retail store, Blue Cross has a truck that travels throughout Tennessee offering a mobile retail experience that is part of a three-year pilot, which will help the insurer learn what steps work.

Blue Cross isn't without competition. Several insurers, including UnitedHealth, plus brokerage and advisory firms like Cowan Benefits and Bernard Health operate their own retail centers in the Nashville area, noted Business Journal. 

Meanwhile, Florida Blue plans to open three integrated care facilities in South Florida, mimicking a care model that is says will be familiar to immigrants from Latin America, Kaiser Health News reported

To learn more:
- read the Nashville Business Journal article
- here's the Kaiser Health News article