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Insurer to open retail store to enhance customer interaction

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To drive a face-to-face relationship between health insurers and consumers, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey will open the state's first health insurance retail store this summer in Moorestown.

According to Joseph Albano, vice president of consumer and senior markets, Horizon's strategy for expanding into the retail market stems from a nationwide shift in philosophy of health insurance as a retail product, which he said "would have happened without health care reform" in 2014.

"Employers are driving more of a cost share and decision making (for health insurance) down to their employees, and they look to companies like us to help them make more informed decisions," Albano said. "Using this retail setting and putting customers and prospective customers face to face with our associates can be a way that we can help folks make those decisions."

Horizon has hired 10 new employees to staff the 4,500-square-foot retail center, located in the East Gate Square Shopping Center on Route 38. The facility will include private meeting rooms, interactive work stations for benefits and claims information, and a children's entertainment center.

Though Horizon's highest volume of consumer membership is in North Jersey, Albano said the retail store — which is in proximity to the company's headquarters in Mount Laurel — will give Horizon the opportunity to grow and advance its membership and become more visible in the southern part of state.

In November, Horizon launched an ongoing mobile outreach campaign throughout Ocean County to offer customers guided research on health and wellness information and provide answers about plans and claims. While the Blue to You van initiative was targeted at senior communities and Medicare recipients, Albano said the retail store is not specific to any market or customer base.

"The primary reason for the retail setting is about enhancing the experience for our customers and anybody who comes into the center … with good old-fashioned interactions," Albano said. "We want to help people understand their benefits more, and become better-informed customers."

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