PHOENIX: Health insurance company Health Net of Arizona is working with Edelman to promote what is believed to be the first free-standing Medicare store in the state, and possibly the US.
The store, which opened in March, aims to help Medicare beneficiaries navigate through their benefits choices.
The move is part of a strategy to position Health Net as a leader in Medicare education, as well as to put a public face on a business that usually interacts with its customers through call centers, newsletters, and home visits.
"Health Net's commitment and brand strategy is to make Medicare simple," said Scott Ptacek, VP of marketing and business development for Health Net's senior products division. "It was not a publicity stunt."
Medicare products have become more complicated since the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act, which provided beneficiaries with new benefits - most notably a prescription drug benefit - but also left seniors scrambling to determine their insurance needs.
Ptacek said the store concept grew out of an idea based around consumer advocacy. "It has taken on a life of its own," he added.
Edelman is assisting with media relations, a strategy that was first focused on local Arizona media outlets and has now grown into a national media outreach effort.
"As its success is becoming more apparent... [our] big media PR strategies are being developed alongside it," Ptacek said.
Health Net is also promoting the store through ads and direct mail.
The 2,500-square-foot retail store is located in Fiesta Mall and will be open during mall hours as part of its "Making Medicare Simple" message. It features conference rooms for seminars and private meeting rooms.
"When you talk about health insurance, it's pretty personal," Ptacek said.