First, CVS opened MinuteClinics to provide on-the-spot health care. Then it stopped selling cigarettes. And now it plans to buy a managed health care company.
“CVS Health has steadily become an integrated health care company, and Aetna has moved beyond being a traditional insurer to focus more on consumer well-being,” a statement from CVS said.
Here’s what CVS promises to deliver via the merger:
1. More Convenient Access to Basic Health Care
CVS Health explained in a statement that it would help its customers connect with Aetna’s health care providers via CVS Pharmacy locations and the more than 1,100 MinuteClinics. New community-based health hub services in many CVS locations will help patients get answers about their health issues, prescriptions and insurance coverage.
2. Better Health Data for Patients
What happens to a patient after they leave the hospital? CVS Health notes that the transition from constant monitored care to home recovery can be difficult and filled with questions.
“Readmission rates can be cut in half if patients have a complete review of their medications after discharge from the hospital to help them nag their care at home,” the pharmacy’s statement said.
By taking advantage of health hub locations, where services will be integrated with physician care plans, CVS/Aetna hopes to use the information available about patient conditions and history to provide more comprehensive care at the pharmacy level.
3. More Resources for People With Chronic Conditions
In its statement about the merger, CVS gives the example of diabetes — a disease that 30 million Americans have, and one that costs the health care system about $245 billion each year.
CVS programs can support patients between doctor visits, providing medication and blood glucose counseling, easier access to supplies, and access to services and action steps that can reduce the severity of the disease.
“These types of interventions are things that the traditional health care system could be doing, but the traditional health care system lacks the key elements of convenience and coordination that help to engage consumers in their health,” Larry Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Health, said in the statement.
Is This Really Allowed?
CVS and Aetna have worked together for seven years, The New York Times noted. While some experts have sounded the antitrust alarm, CVS and Aetna ultimately don’t provide the same services, which will likely exempt the deal from further antitrust scrutiny.
The buyout news comes shortly after rumors surfaced that Amazon may dip its toe into the pharmacy business. But while Amazon has built its business on delivering products to customers at home, CVS and Aetna are hoping people will spend a little more time at their local pharmacies.
Lisa Rowan is a senior writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder.