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Winn-Dixie rolls out prepaid health insurance cards

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. is answering consumers’ call for affordable health care while taking a novel approach to prepaid cards.

The food and drug chain said Wednesday it’s offering prepaid health coverage, in gift card and discount card options, in its 353 Winn-Dixie and Save-Rite stores in Florida through a partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida (BCBSF).

Under the Health Card program, customers can purchase a $59 Gift of Health Care card and/or a $19 FamilyBlue discount card. The cards are located on freestanding displays in the pharmacy area or in the cold/flu aisle of stores without a pharmacy, the retailer said.

Once customers have paid for their card, they call a BCBSF toll-free number listed on the back of the card to activate it and receive a personalized member ID card to take to the doctor.

With the gift card, which Winn-Dixie described as "a convenient way to buy affordable health insurance," the $59 is applied to a plan that the customer selects during the activation call. The discount card, meanwhile, provides an entire family with savings on dental, pharmacy and vision care for three months.

"The current economic downturn has left many people without access to health care benefits for themselves and their families. This program offers an affordable solution to that critical issue," Mary Kellmanson, group vice president of marketing at Winn-Dixie, said in a statement.

Craig Thomas, vice president and chief marketing officer at BCBSF, noted that the Health Cards provide consumers with easy access to health care.

"This is a completely unique concept for the health care industry that allows us to reach a broader audience of uninsured and underinsured who would normally go to their local store to purchase prepaid and gift cards," Thomas stated. "Winn-Dixie’s role as the first Florida grocer to carry these cards is a clearly demonstrates their commitment to the health and well being of the communities they serve."

Reflecting a push by supermarket chains to raise their visibility as health and wellness destinations, Winn-Dixie has been proactive in serving up cost-effective health care options.

For instance, the chain this month began offering free antiviral drugs in more than 150 stores to customers with insufficient or no prescription insurance coverage. And earlier this fall, the retailer started offering seasonal flu shots for $24, with loyalty card holders eligible for a $5 discount on the vaccinations.

Winn-Dixie operates more than 400 pharmacies in its 515 supermarkets across Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi. The retailer recently ranked second among supermarket chains in a pharmacy customer satisfaction poll by marketing firm J.D. Power and Associates.


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