BUFFALO, N.Y., Nov. 12, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Online problems marred the 2014 exchanges, but for a major Blues plan, the 2015 exchanges are all about a web site customized for millennials with innovative digital and social media offerings.
Saturday marks the official start of a shortened enrollment season – three months through Feb. 15, 2015 – for individuals to select a health plan on the New York State of Health Marketplace (Exchange): www.nystateofhealth.ny.gov.
BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York is the region's longest-standing health plan, and the most recognized and trusted brand nationally. Insurance companies are not known for risk taking, but this Blue is prepared for the marketplace, "Exchange 2.0," with 12 distinct product options, a digital shopping journey, value-added products and services for exchange members.
And, while the thrust is digital, with mobile ads on Pandora, there is also a breakthrough retail presence.
The health plan will oversee an exclusive pilot launch at Target retail stores in Western New York beginning Nov. 15 and continuing on Thursdays-Sundays until Feb. 15, 2015. Special BlueCross BlueShield kiosks will be staffed by representatives of the health plan with iPads and enrollment brochures.
"This is taking our brand to a trusted and visible retailer throughout our footprint," noted Senior Vice President Marketing and Communications Gretchen Fierle. "We believe this partnership represents where health plans will need to be this year and going forward as more and more consumers will make individual health plan selections."
Again this year, the primary responsibility for accessing health insurance rests with the uninsured, who will face paying an increased tax penalty if they don't do so. The 2015 penalties for opting to not purchase health insurance are $325 per adult, $162 per child, up to $975 per family, or 2 percent of income, whichever is greater.
This year, the company enhanced its website and digital experience, hiring 27-year-old Patrick Finan's Block Club branding agency to design a shopping journey for native users who have grown up on digital platforms – also known as "millennials."
The site, www.ShopBluesPlans.com features an easy-to-use personal quote and subsidy calculator – making the experience intuitive – and featuring a soft transfer to the New York State of Health Marketplace to finalize the individual's selection.
BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York is uniquely positioned to offer Exchange consumers a widely recognized and trusted health brand, along with a strong array of value-adds including:
- $250 Wellness Card for gym memberships, massage therapy, health food store purchases, and races of 5K, 10K and marathon distances' entrance fees;
- More than $1,000 in savings with "Two for One" cards – to be mailed in a fabulous Blue Box in January - created exclusively for BlueCross BlueShield of WNY subscribers by City Dining Cards (www.twoforonewny.com);
- More than 50 free checkups and preventive services;
- A membership card that is recognized and accepted worldwide, not just in Western New York
In addition to individual health insurance, the BlueCross BlueShield plans include dental only coverage for children and adults and a variety of health insurance offerings for small businesses (2-50 employees).
The health plan's television and print campaign, created by Eric Mower + Associates, features BlueCross BlueShield of WNY members, filmed locally, where they live and work, not actors or actresses (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCK1hhXh3CE).
Individuals who enrolled last year on the exchange will be automatically re-enrolled into the same plan for 2015 unless they elect to make a change.
"We encourage our exchange members to shop and compare options," stated Dave Busch, senior vice president and chief sales officer. "We believe they will benefit by doing so, and will stick with Blue in most, if not all, instances."
Depending on income, individuals and families may be eligible for federal subsidies to assist in payment for health plan coverage. Once again this year, there will be Navigators at designated community organizations, who can help people shop for insurance coverage. Enrollment clinics will be hosted by BlueCross BlueShield
Any individual who needs personal assistance may also call BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York directly 1-800-888-5407.
About BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York:
BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York is a division of HealthNow New York Inc., one of New York's leading health care companies that provides access to quality health care and innovative solutions for members throughout upstate New York. Headquartered in Buffalo, NY, the company is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association.
SOURCE BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York