State exchange looks to retail for consumer enrollment

California's health insurance exchange is pulling out all the stops to market and promote the online marketplace, including recruiting retail stores to help enroll consumers.

That's part of a newly outlined plan based on the state's $674 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to keep the exchange on schedule for full launch next January.

At the latest meeting last week, dubbed Covered California, the California Health Benefit Exchange board said retail stores may be the best avenue to reach uninsured Californians, reported LifeHealthPro. "Retail stores cater to a wide variety of consumers in various age groups, culturally diverse populations, and consumers with varying income levels," said Thien Lam, a deputy director at the board.

Some stores could get employees trained and certified to provide in-person assistance to exchange enrollment or they could help with marketing, education and referral activities instead of enrollment. A third option available for participating stores would be to simply hang posters, distribute flyers and include messages about Covered California on store bags and cash register receipts.

Covered California officials also hope to hire translators who are fluent in 13 languages, all of which are commonly spoken in the state, according to The Sacramento Bee.

However, officials recognize the exchange's development progress could hit some bumps in the road in the future. "We will get things wrong as we go. But we will make them right as quickly as we can," Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee said at the meeting. "We have to think of the long view and believe we will be around for a long time to come."

To learn more:
- read the LifeHealthPro article
- see the Sacramento Bee article