On Sunday, CVS Health announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire Aetna for the price of $69 billion that will combine a giant drugstore chain with one of the largest health insurers in the country’s healthcare industry.
The deal, one of the largest of 2017, reflects how the lines are becoming more and more blurred between spheres that have been traditionally separate in a rapidly changing market.
It also represents the effort to make both of the companies more appealing to the consumer as healthcare that started inside a doctor’s office more than not now reaches the consumer via the telephone, an app or retail clinic.
This merger arrives during a time of much transformation in the healthcare industry. Hospitals, pharmacy companies and insurers are preparing for the possible disruption in programs offered by the government such as Medicare due to the plan by the Republicans to slash taxes.
A combination of CVS and Aetna would position it as a top player in the changing landscape of healthcare. Together, the two companies are able to touch the majority of basic healthcare services that people use regularly, which could benefit the consumer.
CVS runs pharmacies and retail clinics that Aetna could use to provide patients direct care, while the combined company could better offer employers one place for their complete health insurance coverage for employees.
However, those against such a deal say consumers could find choices limited in the future. The deal could risk leaving some patients with less choices of where to find care or where to fill prescriptions if those currently using Aetna must go to CVS for their care.
Both companies on Sunday emphasized the ability they have to transform the 10,000 pharmacy as well as clinic locations of CVS into sites that are community based that would not cost patients as much to use.
The merger would create a new delivery method for care, with pharmacists, nurses as well as others that are able to counsel people, do lab work necessary or diagnose a condition.
The CEO at Aetna Mark Bertolini said by using the locations CVS has, the company will provide people a better way to access medical care.
The biggest change the deal could bring is the development of clinics that are community based capable of giving care with health information and technology available.