Buy Health Insurance at the Mall
You can buy clothes, shoes and towels in the stores at most shopping malls and you also can pick up some health insurance. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is opening its eighth Highmark direct retail store in Pennsylvania. It also joins dozens of other stores operated by other health insurance companies across the country in Maryland, South Carolina, Florida, Colorado and other states.
Added Value for Shoppers
Inside the stores, customers can do their own research on plans as well as talk to an agent. The store will have an area where consumers can check their height, weight and blood pressure, as well as undergo other self-administered health assessments. The store also will have a classroom, which will offer sessions on quitting smoking and other wellness topics.
More Individual Health Insurance Buyers
Most people have health insurance provided through their employer and have limited choices about how they are covered. But for several reasons health insurers say the day may be coming when you shop for insurance, just as you do for other products. The percentage of American workers insured by their employers is declining. The share of Americans under age 65 who are covered by group health plans declined for the ninth year in a row in 2009, falling from 68 percent in 2000 to 59 percent in 2009. Others have lost insurance because of layoffs in the lagging economy. But by 2014, most U.S. residents will be required to have health coverage, or pay a penalty tax, because of health care reform.
State Health Insurance Exchanges Coming
The state also is gearing up for changes. Consumers will be able to shop for plans via a health insurance exchange, which states must establish by 2014. Exchanges will provide information about competing insurance companies and their plans’ benefits and costs.