One of the largest mergers in the history of the health care industry may be taking place soon. CVS has announced its acquisition of Aetna, the health insurer for $69 billion. This would be a combination of the existing CVS network of over 9,000 pharmacy stores and a thousand walk-in clinics and the insurance company that boasts over 2 million members.
Talks of this merger began in late October, but CVS just announced its official buy on Sunday. Officials claim that this deal is meeting a need of the health care system to align its services and insurance. Both parties are saying that this is a “unique opportunity to redefine access to high-quality care in lower cost, local settings — whether in the community, at home, or through digital tools.”
As with any news this big, there are positives and negatives. The downside is that this makes CVS a larger insurance company than it already is. While it has never been technical, CVS provides drug insurance through pharmacy benefits to lots of large insurance companies making it a powerful entity that essentially operates in part like an insurance company.
However, this is also some potential gain for consumers aligning pharmacy and healthcare benefits. One professor at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management said that CVS could, for example, “provide pharmacy benefits to incentivize you to do things like fill your blood pressure pills so that you don’t end up in the hospital.”
There is a chance that this could raise some eyebrows in government that keep an eye on big mergers like this one that will shake up industry and hurt competition. However, CVS could be doing this as a move to protect itself from Amazon who is said to be eyeing the pharmacy industry in recent months.