Is CVS-Aetna partnership healthy for consumers?

The CEOs of drug tradesman CVS and Aetna were marvelously in sync Sunday when they jointly announced their companies’ $69-billion understanding underneath that CVS would buy a health insurer.

The understanding would “dramatically serve commission consumers,” Aetna’s Mark Bertolini said. It would “create a height that is easier to use and reduction costly for consumers,” according to Larry Merlo, boss and CEO of CVS Health. They steady these predictions in a array of corner interviews.

All that was blank was a idea to how, exactly, this obscurity of better, cheaper health caring was to be reached. Clues to how small courtesy a companies have paid to that fact could be found via their corner announcement. “With a analytics of Aetna and CVS Health’s tellurian touch, we will emanate a health caring height built around individuals,” Merlo said, in a masterpiece of unfilled corp-speak.

After all, Aetna doesn’t need to sell to CVS to feat a “analytics”; ostensibly, it already has information in palm to assistance a business conduct their health needs, and if it needs a CVS to assistance out, a companies could pointer a contract. The proclamation claims a partnership would finish adult “helping patients equivocate nonessential sanatorium readmissions.” But a total association wouldn’t possess any hospitals and isn’t planning, during slightest during first, to put some-more physicians on a payroll.

The companies contend that “rather than feeling mislaid and confused, comparison high risk patients liberated from a sanatorium … will be means to stop during a health heart plcae to entrance services such as remedy evaluations, home monitoring and use of durable medical equipment, as needed.” That would be a good thing; what isn’t transparent is since CVS and Aetna have to finish a $69 billion sale to make it happen. What’s preventing CVS from branch a drugstores into “health hubs” on a own, today?

As for a “human touch” of CVS, acclamation to a PR assistance who came adult with that phrase. Do we feel “touched” by humans when you’re in your area CVS? Me neither.

The wonders of improved information and improved research have been cited to clear prior mega-mergers, generally those between word companies. Way behind in 2004, a partnership of WellPoint by Anthem was to furnish measureless assets from mixing their mechanism systems and permitting customers’ medical information to be exploited for their advantage opposite a new company’s immeasurable reach.

Never mind that WellPoint Chairman and CEO Leonard Schaeffer was in line to slot $37 million out of a understanding and a lump-sum payout of $45 million in accrued grant rights. We’re still watchful for a technological advantages of a WellPoint-Anthem understanding to seem after 13 years, and a betting here is that we’ll still be watchful for a virtues of merging Aetna’s analytics with CVS’s tellurian hold to seem 13 years from now.

Other certain aspects of a partnership cited by Merlo and Bertolini are equally nebulous. “An wholly new health services charity accessible in many locations will duty as a community-based health heart dedicated to joining a pathways indispensable to urge health and responding patients’ questions about their health conditions, as good as medication drugs and health coverage,” a proclamation says.

What does that mean, precisely? Apparently it means a existent 10,000 CVS drug stores would “include space for wellness, clinical and pharmacy services, vision, hearing, nutrition, beauty, and medical equipment.” Some already accommodate this harsh standard. You can buy makeup during your area CVS. Contact lenses (vision) and wheelchairs (devices) can be purchased online. You can get a influenza shot during your area CVS, and if we have a correct insurance, CVS will immunize we giveaway and check your insurer. Obviously, a customary CVS already offers pharmacy services. If CVS is going to move some of these online purchasing options to a sell floor, that’s swell of a sort, though it mostly means that a CVS sell plcae would demeanour some-more like a nearest Costco.

It’s correct to note that Aetna hasn’t been a manuscript of patron use in a new past. Last year, a association announced it was pulling out of all though 4 of a 15 states where it was providing particular word underneath a Affordable Care Act since of a business preference — it was simply losing too many income on a word exchanges. This was a surprise, given that usually a few months earlier, Bertolini had committed a association to long-term appearance in a exchanges, job it “a good investment.” A sovereign decider ruled in Jan that Aetna’s motive for withdrawing was a distortion — a preference wasn’t formed on distinction and loss, though was designed as plea for a sovereign antitrust lawsuit restraint Aetna’s due $34 billion squeeze of Humana, another health insurer. (The decider blocked a deal.)

The law is that a CVS-Anthem understanding isn’t being driven by a enterprise to assistance typical Americans conduct their health caring costs better. It’s driven by a enterprise to deflect off frightful new competitors in a health caring industry, such as Amazon and Wal-Mart. Would it save money? Hardly: About $8.5 billion would be eliminated to Aetna shareholders from CVS (based on a $26 reward to be paid for their shares in money and CVS batch over Aetna’s cost Friday). The companies contend they’ll acquire some of this behind by streamlining operations, that typically means slicing staff. If it’s truly surplus crew who would be let go, a normal consumer competence not notice a difference; if it’s a indiscriminate hatcheting, that would meant less-efficient services for some-more customers.

The justification that a understanding would lead to a “remaking” or “reshaping” of a U.S. health caring marketplace is scanty, not to contend nonexistent. That’s since what might be a many critical business influenced by a CVS-Aetna understanding isn’t pharmacy services or health insurance; it’s a pharmacy advantage government business.

PBMs, as we’ve reported before, emerged in a 1980s as intermediaries assisting health insurers mix their patron bases for larger precedence in negotiations with drug manufacturers and to drive doctors and hospitals to cheaper drug alternatives.


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