Although brick and mortar stores are a ubiquitous feature of the US consumer landscape, health insurance for individuals is typically sold via phone, mail, computers, brokers, or, newly, “exchanges.” However, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, now known as Florida Blue, broke this mold with 18 retail stores in a do good/do well innovation to reach patients without insurance with health insurance products. The stores also functioned as health care hubs.
As a company committed to providing health insurance to as many individuals as possible, Florida Blue was the only Florida insurer to participate in all 67 Florida counties under the Affordable Care Act (ACA); but it was concerned about how best to reach the potential ACA enrollees, 1.7 million people, and the 3.5 million additional uninsured individuals in Florida. Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) had decided not to establish a state exchange,1 and prospective members in states, like Florida, that did not offer an exchange had to apply through the troubled federal government exchange to receive a subsidy for the purchase of health insurance. Wealthy, national insurance firms also had entered the market, substantially increasing competition in the individual market, but they had opted out of Florida’s 49 primarily low-income counties.2 Would these competitor insurers use their ample financial resources to focus primarily on relatively affluent enrollees?