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Health Insurance Coming To A Strip Mall Near You

Soon you'll be able to shop for books, shoes, video games – and health insurance – all in the same shopping center. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina is opening retail stores in a handful of strip malls.

North Carolina's largest health insurer wants to be part of your next shopping spree.

Blue Cross Blue Shield has already opened retail stores in Hickory and near Raleigh, and it's opening two in Charlotte and one at Concord Mills before October.

That's when the online insurance exchanges, or marketplaces, that are part of the Affordable Care Act open. It's a big opportunity for insurance companies. In North Carolina, hundreds of thousands of uninsured people will likely sign up for coverage through the marketplace. 

Blue Cross is one of three companies in North Carolina that'll offer plans on it. Spokesman Lew Borman said that's where the retail stores come in. 

"Folks who are not insured or will be looking for insurance will be having a lot of choices to make, and what we're trying to do is give them the opportunity to speak face-to-face to an expert and get the best advice they can get," Borman said.

That advice will be limited to what Blue Cross has to offer, although employees will also provide general information about the marketplace and other big changes under the Affordable Care Act.