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Business briefs: Wal-Mart to offer health insurance shopping

From Wire Reports

NEW YORK – Wal-Mart is taking one-stop shopping to another area: health insurance.

The world’s largest retailer plans to work with DirectHealth.com, an online health insurance comparison site and agency, to allow shoppers to compare coverage options and enroll in Medicare plans or the public exchange plans created under the Affordable Care Act.

Wal-Mart says the program targets shoppers who have been confused by the enrollment process and about their health insurance programs. They include those whose employers scaled back their coverage to those who don’t have any insurance. That has sent customers shopping around on various health care sites or at various kiosks set up by specific insurance companies.

With the Wal-Mart program called “Healthcare Begins Here,” customers can enroll online, by phone or at 2,700 of Wal-Mart’s more than 4,000 stores, starting Friday. The stores will be staffed with independent insurance agents from DirectHealth.com.

In April, Wal-Mart teamed up with Autoinsurance.com to let shoppers quickly find and buy insurance policies online. DirectHealth.com and Autoinsurance.com are owned and operated by Tranzutary Insurance Solutions LLC, a subsidiary of Tranzact of Fort Lee, New Jersey, which set up Tranzutary specifically to work with Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart won’t receive commissions on health coverage sales and hopes to benefit partly by luring customers into stores.

Redbox, Verizon drop online streaming

Redbox and Verizon Communications plan to shut down their unprofitable online competitor to Netflix tonight.

Launched publicly in March 2013, Redbox Instant charged $6 a month to stream movies online or a few more dollars a month to also pick up physical DVDs from 44,000 kiosks at convenience stores and supermarkets. Redbox, founded in 2002, joined the streaming market after seeing Netflix’s online service take off.

Although Redbox Instant was adding subscribers, it was falling short of thresholds needed to keep it afloat. Redbox parent company Outerwall Inc. swallowed losses on the venture as it contributed tens of millions of dollars to build out the service.

Verizon didn’t immediately respond to a request to comment on whether it would continue a relationship with Redbox or maintain a streaming movie service.

Turner Broadcasting cutting 1,475 jobs

NEW YORK – Turner Broadcasting, the parent of the CNN, TBS and TNT networks, is eliminating about 1,475 jobs, or about 10 percent of its total employees.

Monday’s announcement follows an offer of voluntary buyouts to 600 veteran employees in August, part of an overall cost-cutting effort at the Atlanta-based broadcasting company founded by Ted Turner.

Turner said Monday that the restructuring includes cutting jobs, eliminating unfilled positions and voluntary departures.

The eliminations will affect 18 different locations and will come from its news, entertainment, sports and business units as well as corporate positions. A spokesman said Turner is eliminating 975 jobs in Atlanta, where it is based. That will reduce its workforce in that city to about 5,500.

The company also plans to add about 150 new positions in areas of investment and growth.

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