January 6, 2012 | last updated June 1, 2012 11:48 am

Aetna, Best Buy team to sell wellness products

In another sign of the nation's changing health-care landscape, Hartford health insurer Aetna Inc. and retail-electronics giant Best Buy are teaming up to sell wellness kits alongside flat-screen TVs.

Aetna and Best Buy announced Friday a pilot sales program that includes four of its most popular well-being offerings direct to electronics shoppers, each priced under $20.

Aetna's branded "My Resources for Living Well" product line includes on-line modules focused on fitness, weight management, smoking cessation and stress management.

The pilot is being launched at Best Buy's newly created "health technology'' department in three suburban Chicago stores. The departments also stock beauty technology for skin, face and hair.

Best Buy sales associates are trained on the specifics of Aetna's LivingWell line, products that include pedometers and blood-pressure cuffs, authorities say.

Traditionally, Aetna has offered its wellness kits only to members via its employee assistance and WorkLife programs, officials said.

Aetna's partnership with Best Buy is more evidence that it, along with Cigna, UnitedHealth and other care providers, driven largely by health care reform, are revamping their business models for how they develop and distribute new products.

Aetna spokesman Scot Roskelley said it believes this is the first collaboration of this kind between the insurer and a retailer. Roskelley said there is no timetable for the pilot's duration or whether it may roll out to Best Buy's other more than 1,100 stores in the U.S and abroad, 11 of which are in Connecticut.

"Best Buy seemed a natural choice for trying out some of our well-being products with the general public," Louise Murphy, who heads Aetna's behavioral health and employee assistance programs, said in a statement.

Best Buy did not immediately respond to a call Friday for comment.

Aetna said it has developed hanging cards for retail display that describe the programs. Each sells for just $19.99.

The fitness program is a 90-day walking program, with each lesson a coaching session led by a certified trainer. A sophisticated software program tracks an individual's experience and provides online coaching to deal with challenging situations.

The weight program is 12-weeks long and helps people learn how to change their emotional relationship with food. Participants discover ways to end cravings for sweets, fats and bread.

The quit-smoking program is 12 sessions over five weeks that treats the root physical and emotional causes of smoking. It helps eliminate the psychological barriers that keep people from quitting smoking.

The stress program offers ways to implement calming techniques and thrive in trying circumstances. Participants learn how to change their emotional relationship with stress.

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