One of the biggest reasons, of course, is Florida's five million seniors. These retail centers are tailor-made for selling Medicare Advantage policies, and the data seems to bear that out.
"The last annual open enrollment period that finalized for 1/1/12, we added 30,000 Medicare Advantage members, which is the largest year we've ever had. Now can you attribute all of that [to the retail centers]? We certainly know there's been an impact," says Geraghty.
It's not like selling a toaster
Without a retail model for health insurers in place, Geraghty says Florida Blue looked at the how banks and investment firms operate retail store fronts and he says they looked at other states.
"One of the things we did was study what was happening in Massachusetts, and what was happening there was very few people finalized the transaction while they were online. They would go, they would look, they'd see their options and then they would go talk to somebody—either a broker, a physician, a family member, somebody... because the choice is complex, it's not like selling a toaster," says Geraghty.
No, buying health insurance is certainly not like buying a toaster. First of all, consumers, for the most part, have been pretty laid-back about buying health insurance because the complicated part of the decision—which company will cover costs—has been left to the employer or the federal government.
The increase in cost-sharing from employers along with the rise of health savings accounts and high deductible plans have given consumers more choices, but some would argue that's translated into a more confused consumer, instead of a more informed one.