by Brendon Nafziger
, DOTmed News Associate Editor
Walgreen Co., the nation's largest drugstore, is going to sell health insurance later this year, CNN reports, citing unnamed sources close to the move.
According to the report, the Deerfield, Ill.-based chain will set up a nationwide private health insurance exchange with a mix of policies, varying in coverage and cost. Officially, the company is staying mum, neither confirming nor denying the reports, CNN said.
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Apparently, many companies, formerly strangers to the health plan field, are looking to muscle into the potentially multi-billion dollar health care exchange market before 2014, when the health reform law requires the creation of government-funded, public health insurance exchanges, which would offer subsidized coverage to the under- and uninsured.
Although private exchanges will lack government subsidies, they could remain competitive by keeping prices low or offering reward programs, according to CNN.
From 2014 to 2019, 36 million Americans could buy their insurance from exchanges, according to investment bank TripleTree's estimates, cited by CNN.
Walgreens operates 7,700 stores nationwide, with 350 walk-in Take Care Clinics.