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SC BlueCross Opens First Columbia Store as Consumers Face 2014 Health Insurance Sign-ups

December 10, 2013

Columbia, S.C. – BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina will open its first retail store in Columbia this Saturday to meet consumers’ need for information in the new environment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and to serve as a long-term community-based resource. 

Santa Claus will make a special appearance for the grand opening.

The South Carolina BLUESM retail center, located at 1260 Bower Parkway, Suite A4, in the Columbiana Station shopping center, will be open year round to sell health insurance and provide customer support. The public is invited to the grand opening 10 a.m.–2 p.m. on Saturday.

While ACA-mandated open enrollment for 2014 individual insurance continues until March 31, 2014, policies purchased by Dec. 23 will be effective on Jan. 1, 2014.

"We’re making a concerted effort to reach out to the individual consumer by providing a comfortable, face-to-face experience in a retail setting. Purchasing insurance can be complex and confusing, especially to first-time buyers. This Columbia store is part of our statewide strategy to take health insurance retail on a year-round basis,” said Terry Peace, senior vice president of small group and individual insurance.

The store will provide service to current members as well as guide potential customers through the shopping and enrollment process for under age-65 and over-age-65 policies insured by BlueCross or by its subsidiary company, BlueChoice® HealthPlan of South Carolina. Appointments are preferred but not necessary. Store hours are 9 a.m.–7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Saturdays.

The retail center also is intended to serve as a community resource, including space for healthy lifestyle classes and informational seminars that are available free (with a few exceptions) to the public. Schedules are posted at www.SCBlueRetailCenters.com, as well as on Facebook at SC Blue Retail and on Twitter at @SCBlueRetail using #SCBlue.

Upcoming events include:

  • Zumba, 10:15 a.m.-11:15 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 4
  • “Powerful Financial Planning” seminar, 6 p.m.-7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 6
  • “Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Series,” 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m., Monday, Jan. 13 (fee required)
  • “My Big ‘R’ Plan, 65 Now What” retirement planning seminar, 6 p.m.-7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 14
  • Zumba, 6 p.m.-7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 16
  • “Health Care Reform and You,” 11 a.m.-noon, Saturday, Jan. 18
  • Healthy Cooking, 6 p.m.-7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 23
  • Member Reception, 6 p.m.-7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 28
  • “Insurance 101,” 6 p.m.-7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 30.

In addition to visiting with Santa at the grand opening on Saturday, visitors may seek information about health insurance while enjoying food and giveaways, a balloon artist, a photo booth, a jump castle, games and other special activities. The South Carolina BLUE mobile unit, a colorful 40-foot vehicle that travels the state selling health insurance and providing customer service, also will be on site.

BlueCross worked with Colliers International to locate and lease the 2,293-square-foot site. CJMW Architecture provided design and Clayton Construction Co. managed the site renovation. BlueCross has opened stores in Greenville and Mount Pleasant and plans to open more retail outlets elsewhere in the state in 2014.

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.

Also headquartered in Columbia, S.C., BlueChoice HealthPlan of South Carolina (www.BlueChoiceSC.com) is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

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