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Is health insurance sold by your drugstore a prescription for better coverage? Posted: November 7th, 2011

By Susan Ladika

You probably already can find everything from a selection of groceries to pet care products to office supplies at your local drugstore. Soon, there may be a new item included in the inventory--health insurance for individuals.

Health care reform legislation requires that health insurance exchanges be established in each state to help provide coverage options for those who are uninsured and underinsured.

The new exchanges must be up and running no later than Jan. 1, 2014. Media reports say drugstore giant Walgreens will begin selling health insurance this year. The company has yet to confirm those reports.

The exchanges are being set up to serve the health insurance needs of both individuals and small businesses. As an individual, you'll be able to purchase insurance for your family if your workplace doesn't offer you health insurance.

If you own a small business, the exchanges will provide you with a wider array of health plans to choose from than you currently have, all at a lower price.

Along with retailers such as Walgreens, financial service providers and other companies may soon begin selling coverage.

It's still too early to tell exactly which companies will be entering the health insurance marketplace. The final rules for establishing the exchanges have yet to be hammered out. That's expected to take place later this year.

States have health insurance options

Each state can set up its own health insurance exchange, form a regional exchange with other states or leave it in the hands of the federal government to establish the exchange.

If each state decides it wants to do its own thing, companies that plan to sell health insurance nationally may have to contend with 50 different sets of rules.

But some things aren't negotiable. For example, when the health exchanges are in place, insurers won't be allowed to turn you down for coverage if you have a pre-existing medical condition.

Tax credits will be available to help you pay for your insurance coverage if your income falls between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty line.