ConnectiCare, First Health Insurer to Open Retail Store, Adds More

Holiday shoppers may encounter something new amidst the traditional retail stores vying for attention.  Last month, ConnectiCare opened its first storefront location, a 6,000-square-foot standalone building in Manchester. The company plans to open outlets in Bridgeport, Newington and Orange in the coming days, according to David Gordon, ConnectiCare's senior vice president for strategy and product innovation. "The impetus for taking this step came from listening to our customers," Gordon said. "The key thing that we consistently heard was how they want a choice in how they engage with us."  It is a way of “providing face-to-face interactions with our members and our nonmembers, who feel their relationship with us would work better if we were sitting across a table from each other."retail-tn

ConnectiCare is apparently the first health insurance company in the state to offer services from a retail storefront location.  Manchester was chosen after a study of ConnectiCare members, traffic and drive-time patterns and general population figures. The selection of Bridgeport also was based on proximity to significant numbers of ConnectiCare members, and the surrounding population, and are tied to a new partnership with CliniSanitas to offer bilingual facilities for the state's growing Hispanic population.

The flagship Manchester location, near Buckland Hills mall, is staffed by 12 people and includes an area for seminars on various health topics as well as space for yoga and Zumba classes.   ConnectiCare's stores in Bridgeport, Newington and Orange will be smaller than the Manchester flagship, which opened in October.

The ConnecticutCare storefronts will be adjacent to CliniSanitas Medical Center locations.  The centers will offer primary care, specialty care, urgent care, laboratory and diagnostic imaging, as well as health education and wellness services. All three centers – Bridgeport, Newington and Orange - will offer extended evening and weekend hours, with walk-ins welcome. The centers are to be staffed with medical and administrative staff who are bilingual in English and Spanish.

This expansion is the result of a strategic alliance between GuideWell Sanitas and ConnectiCare to serve the health care needs of Connecticut's growing multicultural population, while helping to address the long-standing disparities in the health status of people from culturally diverse backgrounds, officials said. ConnectiCare is the only health insurance plan being accepted by the CliniSanitas Medical Centers, which will also serve those paying directly for health care services and those with traditional Medicare coverage, the companies recently announced.410725logo

CliniSanitas has more than 40 years of health care experience with over 200 facilities in South America. In 2015, the first stateside CliniSanitas centers were opened in Florida. The company explains that their  model is focused on improving access to quality primary care services, and delivering the best health outcomes while preventing unnecessary high medical costs, encouraging longer appointments aimed at strengthening the doctor-patient relationship.

CliniSanitas Medihealth-inscal Centers is a joint venture between two leading health care organizations – GuideWell Mutual Holding Company and Organización Sanitas Internacional. GuideWell is a U.S.-based not-for-profit mutual holding company and the parent to a family of forward-thinking companies focused on transforming healthcare.

"We're excited to start our journey in Connecticut in partnership with ConnectiCare and GuideWell to bring our proven model of patient-centered care to the diverse community of Connecticut. These new medical centers will build on our successful centers in Miami, Florida, and our experience transforming healthcare in South America," said Dr. Fernando Fonseca, Chief Executive Officer of CliniSanitas.

"The CliniSanitas Medical Centers will help us deliver on our brand promise to make it easy for our members to get the care they need. ConnectiCare is pleased to help bring the people of Connecticut access to the high quality and culturally relevant health care provided by the CliniSanitas Medical Centers," said Michael Wise, ConnectiCare's President and Chief Executive Officer.

A local company for 35 years, ConnectiCare, a subsidiary of Emblem Health,  has a full range of products and services for businesses, municipalities, individuals and those who are Medicare-eligible.  In September, ConnectiCare, the single-largest insurer on the state’s health exchange, announced it would participate in the exchange in 2017.

Public Invited to "Chat" About Plans for Health Insurance Exchange

The health care conversation in Connecticut goes public this week, with the launch of a series of public forums – dubbed “healthy chats” – across the state.  The Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange, led by a 14-member board, was established as a quasi-public agency to satisfy requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). With President Obama re-elected, it would appear that it is full-speed ahead with implementation of the ACA, better known as ObamaCare. Starting in 2014, consumers and small businesses will have access to high-quality, affordable health insurance through an Exchange – a one-stop marketplace where consumers can choose a private health insurance plan that fits their health needs and have the same kinds of insurance choices as members of Congress.

In every state, Exchanges are to be designed to allow consumers to shop for and enroll in private health plans that meet their needs. Consumers will be able to learn if they are eligible for tax credits and cost-sharing reductions, or other health care programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Small employers will be eligible to receive tax credits for coverage purchased for employees through the Exchange. These competitive marketplaces make purchasing health insurance easier and more understandable and offer consumers and small businesses increased competition and choice.

The Administration recently extended the deadline for states to indicate if they would develop their own Exchanges, or defer to the federal government to organize their states.

In Connecticut, however, the process has been proceeding for some time.  The state’s Exchange has been staffed and regular planning meetings have been held, in a public setting, to move forward with establishing the Exchange.  Four different advisory committees composed of a variety of stakeholders have been charged with providing the board with diverse perspectives on key initiatives and operations, providing opinions and recommendations.

Now the Exchange is looking hear directly from the public, and to respond to questions or concerns about the unfolding plans.  A series of “Health Chat” public meetings begin Tuesday, Nov. 27 in Hartford, and will be conducted around the state (see list below).

Each Healthy Chat is an open forum – a chance to meet and talk with Exchange CEO Kevin Counihan and other health care reform experts around the state.  Attendance is free. Advance registration is encouraged to ensure ample seating but not required.

Time-of-event registration and refreshments start at 5 pm. Upon arrival, individuals will have an opportunity to write down and submit questions. Chats will run from 5:30 – 7:00 pm and panelists will answer as many questions as possible.

Hartford  Tuesday, November 27 -Hartford Public Library

Waterbury  Thursday, November 29 -Waterbury City Hall

New London  Tuesday, December 4 - Mitchell College

New Haven  Thursday, December 6 - Regional Hall Career High School

New Britain  Tuesday, December 11 - Central Connecticut State University

Stamford  Thursday, December 13 - University of Connecticut Stamford

Bridgeport  Tuesday, December 18 - Bridgeport Holiday Inn

For additional questions, email or call 860-418-6420.