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Costco To Test Health Insurance In California

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The Costco Wholesale Corp. says it is testing 2 health insurance plans for executive members and families of executive members who are uninsured.[@@]

The warehouse-style retailer will test the plans in southern California. If successful, it will offer the plans statewide by year end, says Dallanie Fragnoli, Costco’s assistant vice president for insurance services.

The plans are targeted to individuals and families who do not have health insurance through their employers, are self-employed or do not qualify for group health insurance, Fragnoli says.

PacifiCare Life & Health Insurance Company, Denver, a unit of PacifiCare Health Systems Inc., Cypress, Calif., will offer the plan to executive members of Costco’s 34 stores in Los Angeles and Orange counties in July. It will give them a choice of 2 preferred provider organization plans, each with different deductible levels, at rates 5% to 20% below rates for similar PacifiCare plans, according to Fragnoli.

The plans will be sold through Costco’s Web site and a dedicated call center.

Costco already offers a small-business health insurance program for executive members in California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada and Hawaii.

Costco offers 3 types of membership: business, individual and executive.

Aside from Costco’s usual retail discounts, executive members receive savings on a variety of services, including auto and homeowner insurance, available through the American Express Property Casualty Companies to members in 37 states and Washington, as well as real estate and mortgage services and financial planning.

Costco operates 335 warehouse stores in the United States and Puerto Rico.