Black Friday has long been a shopping experience for millions. Sales and deals are promoted everywhere and stores and malls open earlier and earlier to extend the shopping mayhem. In an effort to take advantage of the impulse to shop, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the day before Thanksgiving that is will partner with a group of retailers to make shopping for health insurance a part of the Black Friday experience.
The partnerships announced by HHS are with Westfield Shopping Centers, the National Community Pharmacists Association and XO Group, Inc. Westfield Shopping Centers has multiple mall locations in eight states, including California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Washington.
The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) is an association of independent pharmacies, pharmacy franchise chains and independent chains. Founded in 1898 the NCPA represents over 23,000 pharmacies that are responsible for filling and dispensing almost half of all prescriptions filled in the U.S.
The XO Group is an internet consumer marketing company which operates multiple websites dealing with everything a couple needs to plan a wedding and start a home and family. It is the perfect time for couples to assess their health insurance needs and options which may be new for them because of changed situations.
HHS is also promoting the open enrollment options on Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Open enrollment will end next year on February 15.
How does it work?
Each of the partner venues will offer information and assistance to shoppers looking to enroll in one of the federal or state supported health exchanges. HHS will provide the education and outreach for consumers. In 2014 Westfield shopping centers were visited by over 425 million customers. Enrollment will be handled by HHS navigators located around the malls at tables, chairs and other necessary items provided by Westfield.
All enrollments, new or renewals can be handled at the centers even for those who may need and qualify for Medicaid assistance.
On small business Saturday the independent pharmacies will take center stage. Most of the members of NCPA are already well known small business owners in the communities they service. Often the members of NCPA are most essential in rural and underserved areas of the country.
The pharmacists who regularly assist their customers with questions and concerns about medications will now also help with accessing and assessing the health insurance needs.
On Cyber Monday the XO Group will offer the same kind of information and assistance on line for couples looking to insure their future. Some of the information offered by the XO Group will include
- A Message from Michelle Obama,
- Three Reasons to #GetCovered and
- The #1 Thing to Do on Cyber Monday to Stay Healthy.
HHS is hoping that by tapping into these popular places, both brick and mortar and on-line, it will encourage consumers to remember that shopping for health insurance is an important part of protecting their families.
In making the announcement, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell stated:
“We are thrilled to announce partnerships today with three organizations that reach consumers across the country, especially on the busiest shopping weekend of the year… This holiday season, whether consumers are shopping at a mall, online or at their community pharmacy, Westfield, The XO Group and the National Community Pharmacists Association will help to provide them with information to shop for an affordable health plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace.”