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Sam’s Club guarantees low price on flu shots

BY Michael Johnsen

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Sam’s Club on Monday announced that the flu shots for the 2014-15 flu season are now available to Sam’s Club members as well as the public at pharmacy locations nationwide. In an effort to encourage the public to get their seasonal flu shots, Sam’s Club is making vaccinations as affordable as possible by matching the price of any competitor with their low price promise. Accepting walk-ins and appointments, Sam’s Club will be offering the standard three strain trivalent flu shots, four-strain quadrivalent flu shots, or high-dose flu shots specifically designed for seniors 65 years and older.
 
Additionally, to help its small business members prepare for the flu season, Sam’s Club will also be providing in-office flu vaccinations to their employees, administered by a pharmacist, to help maintain a healthy and productive workforce. This service will be available in select locations.
 
“With the flu season approaching us, Sam’s Club wants to provide its communities with easy access and the most cost-efficient way to get vaccinated by offering the best price guaranteed,” said Jill Turner-Mitchael, SVP Sam’s Club health and wellness. “We hope through this offering and our pharmacists’ ability to provide patients with additional information on flu prevention we can help people take the right steps to stay healthy this flu season.” 
 
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Walmart launches in-store program to educate customers on health insurance options

BY Michael Johnsen

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — To bring transparency and simplicity to the changing health insurance market, Walmart announced Monday it is working with DirectHealth.com to launch Healthcare Begins Here, an in-store program designed to educate customers on health insurance options. DirectHealth.com, an online health insurance comparison site which is an independent licensed health insurance agency, will provide a resource that brings Walmart customers access to health insurance information and enrollment support.

“Walmart has long been known for innovation in health and wellness, and we’ll never stop delivering new products and services to the 140 million people who visit our stores each week,” said Labeed Diab, SVP and president, health and wellness, Walmart U.S. “For years, our customers have told us that there is too much complexity when it comes to understanding their health insurance options. Healthcare Begins Here addresses that complexity by bringing clarity and increased choice to the insurance enrollment process through DirectHealth.com.”
 
More than 60% of people have difficulty understanding their health insurance plan options and nearly 40% feel they picked the wrong plan after enrollment, Walmart noted, citing recent research from the Kaiser Family Foundation. 
 
DirectHealth.com also manages relationships with licensed insurance agents, enabling customers to compare coverage options and enroll in the plan that is right for them whether that be a Medicare plan or Public Healthcare Exchange plan through online, phone and in-store services.
 
Since 2005, Walmart has hosted insurance agents from individual insurers in stores to answer questions and enroll customers in specific healthcare plans. Healthcare Begins Here, through DirectHealth.com, takes this offering to the next level in response to customers who wanted more options to choose from.
 
For customers over 65:
 
  • DirectHealth.com offers access to more than 1,700 plans from 12 leading carriers including Aetna, Cigna, Humana, UnitedHealthcare and participating Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies;
  • Customers can compare and enroll in health plans online at DirectHealth.com or over the phone at 888-383-2111;
  • 2,700 Walmart stores will be staffed by independent, licensed health insurance agents from DirectHealth.com that can help customers enroll in certain health insurance plans. Agents can also help provide education and guidance on other insurance options; and
  • Enrollment can take place during the Medicare open enrollment period from Oct. 15, 2014 through Dec. 7, 2014.
 
For customers under 65:
 
  • DirectHealth.com offers access to thousands of Health Exchange plans from more than 300 leading carriers;
  • Customers can compare and enroll in health plans online at DirectHealth.com or over the phone at 888-327-0388;
  • 2,700 Walmart stores will be staffed by independent, licensed agents from DirectHealth.com who can help provide education and guidance about health insurance options; and
  • The Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment period takes place from Nov. 15, 2014 to Feb. 15, 2015.
 

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Integer Group: 35% of shoppers now use mobile devices to make purchases

BY Michael Johnsen

DENVER — An ongoing shopper behavior study conducted by the Integer Group and M/A/R/C Research found that in two years, 35% of shoppers now use mobile devices to make purchases, representing an increase of 10% as compared to 2012. Increased mobile purchasing by Hispanics (plus 11% year-over-year), Asian-Americans (plus 10% year-over-year) and the 15–34 and 35–49 age brackets (plus 10% and plus 12% year-over-year, respectively) were largely responsible for this increase.
 
"Shoppers of all ages and demographics are using their mobile phones in stores and to make purchases. Marketers should consider not whether their target uses mobile, but how their target uses mobile," said Craig Elston, SVP of insight and strategy at the Integer Group.
 
In addition to becoming more prevalent as a purchase channel, the use of mobile is expediting the shopping process. The study shows 15% of shoppers said that typically only a "couple of minutes" passed between discovering a product (on their mobile device) and purchase. Males were more likely than females (17% and 13%, respectively) to make these quick-turn purchases, and mobile-savvy Hispanics reported the shortest time mobile shopping (47% of purchases were made within a few hours of product discovery).
 
This acceleration of purchase is indicative of what shoppers look for when using their mobile devices in store or for purchase: information and convenience. In-store shoppers use their mobile devices to compare prices (39%) and look up product reviews (25%). This mirrors their priorities for shopping on their smartphones: spending as little as possible (55%) and finding the best-quality items (49%).
 
Additional findings from the digital/mobile issue of The Checkout include:
 
  • 60% of shoppers have never purchased baby products online and say they never will;
  • 47% of shoppers have never purchased food or beverage products online;
  • Fewer than one in 10 shoppers will download a retailer's app; and
  • Despite the fact that 34% of shoppers make a list on their mobile phones prior to shopping, only 8% of shoppers do so using a retailer's list-making tool.
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