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Healthcare Insurers Turn to Stores to Lure Customers

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Phyllis Simon is out shopping for health insurance.

She's at a Blue Cross-Blue Shield store in New Jersey. "Having a health insurance retail center where you can come in and have questions answered about purchasing a policy and understanding the benefits will be a good thing," says Tom Vincz of Crawford Healthcare Shops.

It's a brick-and-mortar strategy that insurers are turning to, as millions of Americans get set to add health insurance to their shopping lists.

President Obama's healthcare overhaul requires people sign up by the end of March, or face a penalty. "It's up to the insurers to really compete and increase their marketing and lure as many as they can," says Jayne O'Donnell of USA Today.

In the past, the industry's main customers have been employers. Now insurers have to sell to individuals as well. "New online marketplaces will allow customers to go online and compare private healthcare insurance plans just like you'd compare over the internet the best deal on flat-screen TVs or cars," says President Obama. 

But some say the retail stores could keep customers from getting their best deal. "These insurance companies like having their own stores so they can be in control of the customer, who once they get them in the doors are theirs," says O'Donnell.

She argues the best deal could be found online. "You can really compare and contrast them on the state exchanges and you're not going to be able to do that at a retail store."

You can learn about Nevada's healthcare exchange at http://exchange.nv.gov

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