CVS Pharmacy's $69 billion purchase of health insurance provider Aetna will change the way millions of Americans get their health care and prescription drugs. It will be the first time one company will control a retail pharmacy chain, a pharmacy benefit manager and an insurance provider.
Spokespeople for CVS touted the convenience of a one-stop shop for customers, saying the combined infrastructure will lower their overhead and therefore drive down prices.
The company hopes to eventually house primary care physicians and services, as well as wellness centers all within their retail pharmacies. They're saying that putting all of these services under one roof will make their platform easier to use.
CVS says they'll continue to fill prescriptions and serve patients who use other insurance providers as well. Economic experts say that the "mega-merger" will likely give the company more leverage to negotiate with, which they could use to reduce the prices of drugs and services over time.
However, others fear that putting all of this power into the hands of a single financial entity will reduce competion in the marketplace, and leave consumers with fewer choices and fewer places to turn.
The mutli-billion dollar merger comes just ahead of a big disruption in the prescription drug market, as Amazon tries to break their way in. The online retailer has received licences in fifteen states to provide wholesale pharmaceutical products. No doubt CVS hopes that the acquisition of Aetna will give them a fighting chance in the age of online shopping.