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Private health insurance enrollment up by one-third to 3 million

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — As many as 3 million people have enrolled in private health insurance as part of the Affordable Care Act. Enrollment has been up by more than one-third in recent weeks. 

"They represent significant progress in enrollments or signups to the marketplaces, both federal and state — roughly 3 million people so far, and I think from what I saw, more than 800,000 in January," noted White House press secretary Jay Carney during a press briefing on Friday. "That’s obviously a dramatic improvement over what we saw in the very beginning, in October and November. We saw a surge in December as the website fixes began to take effect, and those improvements continue to result in more and more Americans being able to sign up on these marketplaces," he said. "And I think it demonstrates that the problems we had early on with the website were the obstacle."

The number may be used to highlight the progress of healthcare reform during President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday.

"We often talk about the grit and determination of the American people," Carney said. "They’re the reason why we have climbed out of the worst recession since the Great Depression. They’re the reason why the President is optimistic about this year and the potential that this year has for further economic growth and job creation," he said. "They’re also the reason, and their grit and determination is also the reason why, even faced with the obstacles that we put in front of them with the crummy start to the website, they have demonstrated a persistence in their desire for the product that’s on offer here, which is quality, affordable health insurance. And that’s what today’s numbers represent."

 

 

 

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Obama to visit a Costco store in Maryland

BY Antoinette Alexander

WASHINGTON — Following his State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama is scheduled to stop by a Costco store in Maryland on Wednesday, according to news reports.

During his stop at the Costco in Lanham, which is located about 15 miles from the White House, Obama is expected to deliver remarks on the economy, the USA Today reported.

The visit to Lanham kicks off a two-day national tour for the Obama. Additional stops include a steel plant in Pennsylvania.

 

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Study: 1-in-5 store customers are ‘connected’

BY Dan Berthiaume

NEW YORK — Eighty percent of U.S. consumers use the Internet when they shop. The fourth annual research study of shopper behavior, conducted by Cisco Consulting Services, revealed the percentage of “uber-digitals” shoppers, who regularly use their smartphones for their shopping decision-making, nearly doubled to 18% of the sampled population.

In addition, 39% of consumers research products in store before buying them online, and 51% of those consumers prefer to use a retailer’s mobile app for the purchase. The majority (52%) of digital shoppers are willing to share information with retailers if they’ll get discounts on their next purchase.

Other findings include:

  • Thirty-one percent of consumers highly trust retailers to protect their personal data;
  • Thirty-four percent of consumers are interested in scavenger-hunt promotions that offer consumers special discounts if they scan/collect QBR codes while shopping through store;
  • Thirty-five percent of consumers are interested in "beat the clock" specials that offer consumers special discounts if consumer clicks on pop-up window while shopping on-line or smartphone;
  • Twenty-nine percent of consumers were interested in getting on-demand advice from stylists, designers, product specialists, do-it-yourself-home improvement consultants and other experts via video when shopping in the store; and
  • When ordering online and picking up merchandize in the store, consumer interest varies by store type; 44% at consumer electronic stores, 35% at home improvement stores, 30% apparel/fashion stores and 22% at grocery stores.

“Today’s mobile phone is a remote control for shopping,” Jon Stine, North America lead, retail, Cisco Consulting Services, said. “The growing trend of consumers using mobile phones when shopping in the store is a wake-up call for retailers. The retailers that will win more revenues from customers today and in the future will be the ones that offer the best online experience and integrate it with the consumers’ in-store shopping experience."

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