Columbia, S.C. – BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina this week opened its first Upstate retail store to better serve the needs of people looking to buy insurance amid the new rules of health care reform.
The company moved into the store on Monday, May 6, and the store is open for business now. Called “South Carolina BLUESM,” the store is located at 1025 Woodruff Road, Suite A105, in the Magnolia Park shopping center in Greenville, S.C. A ribbon cutting ceremony including local business leaders and dignitaries is scheduled for June 7, and the public will be invited to a grand opening celebration on June 8.
BlueCross hired five licensed agents to staff the store. They are selling individual policies and group plans fully insured by BlueCross and by its subsidiary company, BlueChoice® HealthPlan of South Carolina. They also will assist existing customers with questions about their health plans.
No appointments are needed. The store is open 9 a.m.–7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Saturdays.
“Health care is changing. Federal legislation requires that all individuals must have insurance beginning in 2014. Even people and groups who’ve had the same health plan for years have questions about their plans related to health care reform,” said BlueCross President Jim Deyling. “In this retail setting, we wanted to provide a comfortable, face-to-face setting to help consumers navigate a shopping experience that will be new to a lot of them.”
The store will coordinate with other local businesses and organizations to use its meeting rooms for public events such as nutrition programs, fitness activities and biometric health checks. Individuals or groups wanting to organize running or walking clubs, or other fitness activities, may use the location as a central meeting place. Activities will be promoted via the store’s Facebook page and in local community activity calendars.
“We plan for our store to become a community space that encourages and facilitates good health,” Deyling said.
BlueCross worked with Colliers International (www.Colliers.com) to locate and lease the site, which is one unit of four new retail spaces in a building in Magnolia Park. BlueCross contracted with CJMW Architecture (www.cjmw.com) for design and LCK Construction Services (www.lckcs.com/) for project management of the 2,200 square foot space.
BlueCross was one of the first health insurance companies in the nation to go retail, opening its first store in 2009 in Mount Pleasant, S.C. The company hosted a kiosk in Columbiana Centre mall in the Midlands region of the state from October 2012 to January 2013. The only South Carolina-based health insurance company to operate retail stores in the state, BlueCross plans to open more retail outlets in the state over the new few years.
In addition to the stores, BlueCross and BlueChoice® continue to maintain sales through independent agents and by direct contact through the company websites and toll-free phone lines. Customer service continues through the toll-free lines and the Web-based, personalized My Health Toolkit®.
Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., and operating in South Carolina for more than 65 years, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. The only South Carolina-owned and operated health insurance carrier, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina comprises 47 companies involved in health insurance services, U.S. DoD health program and Medicare contracts, other insurance and employee benefits services, and a philanthropic foundation that funds programs to improve health care and access to health care for South Carolinians. BlueChoice HealthPlan of South Carolina (www.BlueChoiceSC.com) also is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
Magnolia Park is a regional mixed use project being redeveloped at the junction of Interstates 385 and 85 and Woodruff Road by Menin Development of Palm Beach, Florida. Magnolia Park, formerly the Greenville Mall, comprises more than 500,000 square feet on its 85-acre campus, including retail and entertainment icons Costco, Regal Cinemas, Rooms to Go, Old Navy, Bed Bath & Beyond and others. A 60,000-square-foot Toys R Us/Babies R Us superstore and a 35,000-square-foot retail building featuring Jared Jewelers and Firebird's Wood Fired Grill are under construction with additional store openings to occur throughout 2013. Prior to the end of 2014, Magnolia Park will see the opening of an additional 500,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and entertainment tenants, including a 150,000-square-foot "lifestyle retail" section set to be announced in the near future. In addition, a hotel of up to 180 rooms will be built alongside I-385.