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Highmark retail store gives human touch

More than just selling health insurance, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield seeks to help people not just make educated decisions for their coverage, but for their everyday living, said an administrator.

Maintaining the insurance company’s only brick and mortar store in the region is Kevin Brown, retail store manager, whose location has helped people work through seminars, consultations and even yoga.

We’re really big on preventative health awareness,” he said.

The Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield store, 1754 E. Third St., offers various fitness classes for members including “Boom, Stretch,” which is a more “low-key” group activity, Brown said.

Additionally, the store offers several health fairs a year.

Many people come in with questions of traversing the different kinds of insurance, said Brown.

“They come in with a lot of anxiety because they’re getting so much information out there and don’t have a clue on how to start,” he said.

The two main groups, Brown said he works with, are those who qualify for Medicaid and those over 65 years old who are getting started with Medicare, “so they’re able to make an informed, educated decision based upon the information that we’ve provided for them.”

A consultation involves finding out what the client’s needs are, what they can afford and then guiding them to that goal, he said.

Those making between $16,500 to $44,000 may want to look into Medicaid, where they can get a premium tax credit for whatever they may spend at the doctor’s office, he said.

“Insurance has changed over the years,” said Brown. “We used to be able to get an insurance, go anywhere, pay very little copays and deductibles and things of that sort. Unfortunately those days are over.”

People need to be proactive in their approach, because not every doctor’s office accepts the same insurance, he said.

“Anyone that I sell insurance to, I stress to them that they need to be the gatekeeper of their insurance,” said Brown.

Knowing which doctor is in your network and which is outside of it may mean the difference between a small co-pay and paying the entire cost for the visit, he added.

The store exists to make people’s lives easier when it comes to something so complex as insurance, he said.

“It’s always nice to have a brick and mortar place where they can actually come in and get some of their questions answered, rather than call on the phone and get an automated system. We try to do a lot for our members,” said Brown.

“Here at the store, we don’t just sell insurance, we want them to be part of our family,” he added.

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