ConnectiCare’s decision to be the first insurance company to operate retail stores in the state has paid off so far and the company is exploring opening a second store in Fairfield County to join its Bridgeport outlet.
“We are having active discussions,” said ConnectiCare Vice President of Retail Operations Gary Wolters. “It’s a matter of finding the right location at the right price.”
The retailing endeavor is part of ConnectiCare’s partnership with CliniSanitas to offer bilingual facilities for the state’s Hispanic population at stores attached to CliniSanitas locations. The 500-square-foot Bridgeport center at 4551 Main St. has received about 350 visitors since its Nov. 28 opening, Wolters said.
“We caught the tail end of Medicare enrollment and of the open enrollment period (for the state’s health insurance exchange, Access Health CT),” he noted. “It’s been going quite well.”
The majority of inquiries have been about the status of customers’ health insurance policies should the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, be repealed or altered, Wolters said. “We’ve been fielding questions about what the best plan is for them moving forward, whether they’re eligible for a subsidy or not. We’ve seen the value of having those discussions face to face — doing it over the phone or online just doesn’t give them the same level of comfort.”
Rodrigo Martinez, regional director at CliniSanitas CT, said the Bridgeport clinic has seen 161 patients, some on multiple visits, since opening. “That our staff is bilingual has been especially important, as 70 percent of our patients are Latino or Hispanic,” he said.
“Having a retail center within the clinic has been a positive experience. If we’re treating patients without insurance, we can refer them to ConnectiCare to learn about which of their products might be best for them, and ConnectiCare is always sending new members to the clinic,” Martinez said.
Wolters said the partnership strives to emphasize preventive, rather than reactive, care. “CliniSanitas takes the extra time required to get to know their patients — they’re not in a rush to get people in and out. They want to understand each person’s health, background and family situation. And that applies to us as well — we want to foster relationships with our members.”
Wolters noted that the insurer also offers a number of online chat programs, with several available in both English and Spanish.
“At the end of the day, many health insurance plans are very similar to each other,” ConnectiCare Marketing Director Kimberly Kann said. The insurer’s retail operation “is a way for us to bring something unique to the state.”