LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Oct. 26, 2011) — A grand opening celebration is scheduled for Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s first health insurance store, ArkansasBlue, at its location in the Shackleford Crossings shopping center in Little Rock on Saturday, October 29.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony for ArkansasBlue will be held at 10 a.m., followed by an open house for the public with refreshments, free gifts and a remote radio broadcast by KSSN-FM. During the festivities, visitors can tour the new store, get information on insurance, and choose from an eco-friendly coffee mug or tumbler while supplies last. Children at the event will receive a safety strobe light that can be used on Halloween night.
Health insurance experts at the new store will provide members and insurance shoppers with information about Arkansas Blue Cross insurance plans, advice on which plan best meets their health and budget needs and assist them with any questions or concerns they may have about purchasing or choosing health insurance. ArkansasBlue also will provide visitors with information on dental and other insurance plans.
ArkansasBlue is located across from the Walmart Super Center and near Cracker Barrel, Copeland’s, Babies “R” Us, JCPenney and numerous other retail outlets. Store hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
“The move to retail marketing is a new and different approach for Arkansas Blue Cross,” said Ron DeBerry, senior vice president of Statewide Business, “but we always have been a frontrunner when it comes to adapting to a changing marketplace. This is a great opportunity for people to stop in and learn more about our health and dental insurance products and find one that best fits their health and budget needs.”
Brad Welshans has been named manager for the new store. Sara Harris, will serve as team lead, with Michael Stewart, Steve George and Ben Foster serving as sales representatives, and Trina Watson serving as a customer advocate.
“We want to make it as easy and convenient as possible for people to do business with us,” said Karen Raley, vice president of Communications and Product Development. “We have heard from customers who said they would like to have another option for talking to someone face to face, and we listened.”
Another reason for opening a retail store is to provide customers information in anticipation of changes through national health insurance reform. Beginning in the fall of 2013, millions of people will be buying insurance through online health insurance exchanges, either run by the federal government or by the state.
“Arkansas Blue Cross wants to help people understand this complex process before they have to buy,” Raley said, “so they can make good choices, and sometimes people learn better in person.” Many other Blue Plans throughout the nation are making the move toward health insurance stores, including plans in Florida, South Carolina and Pennsylvania.
Founded in 1948, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is the largest health insurer in Arkansas. Arkansas Blue Cross and its affiliates have more than 2,700 employees. If combined, the 39 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans collectively provide health care coverage for 93 million Americans.