News Release

Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield opens ArkansasBlue health insurance store in Pine Bluff


Max Greenwood @ 501-378-2131

Pine Bluff, Ark. (June 26, 2013) — Pine Bluff Mayor Debe Hollingsworth, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield representatives and Pine Bluff Chamber of Commerce ambassadors today cut the ceremonial ribbon to officially open ArkansasBlue — the state’s second health insurance store — in Pine Bluff.

The new store, located across from Walmart on Highway 63, offers health insurance policies as well as dental and vision insurance and other types of insurance.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was followed by an open house for the public. The grand opening celebration will continue with special giveaways while supplies last.

Health insurance experts at the new store will provide members and insurance shoppers in Pine Bluff and southeast Arkansas with information about Arkansas Blue Cross insurance plans and advise them on choosing an affordable plan. Arkansas Blue Cross members also can stop by ArkansasBlue for assistance with claims or service questions.

“We want to make it as easy and convenient as possible for people to do business with us,” said Dwayne Pierce, regional executive with responsibility for Arkansas Blue Cross operations in southeast Arkansas, which includes the new store. “Our customers told us they want options for discussing their health insurance choices face-to-face, and we listened.”

“We have a long history in Pine Bluff,” said Mike Brown, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “ It began many years ago with a small sales office. Then, we opened a regional sales and service center in Pine Bluff in the early 90s. The people of southeast Arkansas have been very kind to us and that office has grown from a staff of 12 people back in 1994 to almost 20 today. So when we began looking around the state for a site for a second health insurance store, we came here.”

Timing couldn’t be better for the opening of ArkansasBlue in Pine Bluff. With the full implementation of the new health care reform law coming in January 2014, people will have an opportunity to come in and visit one-on-one with people who can answer their questions about how the law will impact them and their insurance coverage, and find an affordable solution.

“We are in an unprecedented period in the history of health care in this country,” said Mark White, president and chief executive officer of Arkansas Blue Cross. “The new health care law is the most comprehensive piece of legislation affecting the health care industry since the passage of Medicare in the 1960s. The new law will bring changes for everyone involved.

“People will shop for health insurance differently. There will be new plans and new rules. And, as with most change, there will be winners and losers. Thousands of Arkansans will qualify for free or low-cost insurance. Others will find traditional insurance more costly and will want more affordable choices. Arkansas Blue Cross is committed to guiding our customers, and all Arkansans, through the transition. ArkansasBlue allows us to be closer to the community we serve.”

Arkansas Blue Cross is one of a growing number of Blue plans throughout the country opening retail locations. The Pine Bluff store is the second ArkansasBlue store opened by Arkansas Blue Cross. The original ArkansasBlue is located in West Little Rock in the Shackleford Crossing Shopping Center.

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 38 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans collectively provide health care coverage for 93 million Americans.

— 30 —