Health Plans Step Into Retail Operations

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media , November 8, 2011

The stores typically offer a wide mix of services, including wellness classes, insurance applications, bill payment, and claims checks. The Blue Shield store will include a nursing staff to provide basic primary care services and a dietician.

Biehn said the 500-sq-ft. Lucky Supermarket location was selected because according to recent studies the grocery store is the number one place where people think about their health. He said the grocery store attracts about 13,000 unique customers each day and the average customers visits the store 1.5 times per week. "The reach and frequency factor will be good for us. We'll get greater word of mouth and we don't have to market to them."

He declined to disclose the financial details of the arrangement. Rittman said health plans are at the beginning stages of deciding how their return on investment can be calculated for this type of investment. Much of the discussion involves the medical loss ratio. "If they can acquire, service, manage, and retain customers for a decrease in projected MLR of 1% to 2% then they can invest a significant amount of money into refining their patient engagement strategies."

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