Soon, shoppers may be able to pick up bread, make up and health insurance all in one location, as the drugstore giant Walgreens reportedly plans on selling health insurance products as early as the fall.
Walgreens, the nation's largest drugstore chain, will offer health insurance at a variety of prices and coverage levels through a private health insurance exchange, CNN Money reports. Although the company has not confirmed the move, the media outlet reports it received its information from people familiar with the matter.
"As always, we're looking at a number of options in light of health care reform as we continue to seek ways to help our customers better navigate today's health care system," a Walgreens spokesman told the source.
However, a recent court decision could throw a wrench into Walgreens' potential health insurance offerings. Insiders believe that private companies were likely to jump into market for health insurance exchanges due to a mandate in President Barack Obama's health reform legislation, which requires the creation of federal and state-funded public health insurances exchanges that will offer subsidized insurance for uninsured or underinsured Americans by 2014.
On Friday, a federal appeals court in Atlanta declared in a 2 to 1 ruling that the health insurance mandate is unconstitutional because it violates "people rights," as stated in the U.S. Constitution. The majority wrote that the requirement, "represents a wholly novel and potentially unbounded assertion of congressional authority."
Although the court threw out the mandate, it overruled a lower court's decision that sought to reject the healthcare law in its entirety.
The case is expected to go before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The law - titled The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but often derided as "Obamacare" - bars insurers from denying coverage to individuals who are sick and from imposing lifetime limits on costs, as well as requiring almost all Americans over 18 to obtain a healthcare plan.
The number of Americans with health insurance declined from 255.1 million in 2008 to 253.6 million in 2009. It was the first year since 1987 - when the government began collecting such data - that the number of people with health insurance has decreased, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2009, about 7.5 million children under 18 were uninsured.