First Wal-Mart installed licensed agents in its stores to help customers navigate health insurance, now Sam’s Club, a members-only retail chain owned by Walmart, is launching its own health insurance exchanges for its customers who own small business. The chain intends its new Aetna Marketplace for Sam’s Club to be a better alternative to the public insurance exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act. Washington Post:
“While it’s no surprise that small business owners are strapped for time, our insights team really honed in on what causes this time crunch,” said Rosalind Brewer, chief executive of Sam’s Club, in a conference call with reporters.They found that confusion over health insurance plans was a leading issue occupying small business owners’ time. With the new exchange, they hope to provide a streamlined, simple offering.
In general, the more of the burden of infrastructure of both health insurance and health care that is taken up by business with a reputation for both efficiency and cost-savings, the better. New teams brought in to repair the disastrous launch of the federal and state exchanges last year now appear to have fixed many of the problems that suppressed enrollment and created mass confusion. But that initial failure remains emblematic of the inefficiencies and failed cost-control experiments that have plagued attempts at top-down health care reform. If Sam’s Club can help provide a better insurance shopping experience—all while Wal-Mart and other big box stores ramp up their delivery of health care through in-house clinics—we could be on our way to a more straightforward, cheaper health care system.