DICKSON CITY -- A health insurance company in our area is changing the way it sells insurance. Customers can buy coverage in an actual Blue Cross Store and workers say business has picked up since the Affordable Care Act took effect.
Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania opened its second Blue Cross Store in Lackawanna County earlier this month. Officials say the stores where people can buy or ask questions about their health plans weren't created because of the Affordable Care Act but they've become much busier since it took effect.
In the same strip mall as a clothing store and a Chuck E Cheese, there's a new storefront that, at first, may not seem like a store at all. The bright lights and colors are meant to make you feel better about what you're buying health insurance.
Jennifer Yokimishyn helps run the store in Dickson City where insurance experts from Blue Cross help customers pick out plans.
The store opened on October 1, the same day the health care exchange brought on by the Affordable Care Act opened.
"I think there's a great deal of anxiety right now. Even people who are not necessarily impacted by the Affordable Care Act want to come in and be reassured, 'you're fine, your policy is fine, you don't need to do anything.' and if we can do that for them, then we're serving their needs," Yokimishyn said.
Yokimishyn says the store was not created because of President Obama's Affordable Care Act, but of the dozens of people they see every day, some of them have had their insurance cancelled because of the law, like Linda Boyer of Moscow, who came to the store shopping for insurance for the first time in more than 40 years.
"It got cancelled and we have to get new insurance," Boyer said. "This came right at the right amount of time. Believe me, this way I don't have to go through all this myself, all through a million phone calls and other things, this made it much easier for me."
Officials from Blue Cross say they've seen a lot of people who are retirees like Linda Boyer, or the self-employed who need insurance but also need to register with http://www.healthcare.gov. After half an hour of trying, the Boyers weren't able to log on but they plan to come back to the store to try again.
"A little different but I'm very pleased that someone was here to help me because I'm not as computer savvy as I should be. But, I'm really glad that someone is helping me."
The workers at the Blue Cross Store say they see between 30 and 40 people per day, including many young people who are preparing to leave their parent's insurance. The store takes drop-ins or appointments.