Home / Business / Beyond Rx? CVS Health-Aetna agreement may mean more services | Health

Beyond Rx? CVS Health-Aetna agreement may mean more services | Health



CVS Health wants to do more than just fill your prescription or take your arm with an annual flu shot.

The second largest drugstore chain in the US UU It is buying Aetna, the third largest health insurer, to drive much deeper in customer service. The evolution will not happen overnight, but over time, shoppers can find more clinics at CVS stores and more services they can receive through the network of almost 10,000 locations the company has built.

"They will be more or less soup-to-nuts health company … except for the hospital part," said Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, a consulting and retail research firm.

Patients may also find the combination of CVS-Aetna much more involved in the management of their care, especially for those with costly chronic conditions such as diabetes. The extended company can also gain more bargaining influence over the prices of prescription drugs, but it is too early to say how much or if that benefit will reach the customers.

The $ 69 billion deal announced Sunday night will push the pharmacy chain more energetically in a direction that has been driving for years, according to Wall Street analysts. The company, which stopped selling tobacco products in 201

4 to continue polishing its image as a care provider, already manages some 1,100 clinics and has been constantly expanding the medical care it offers.

Clinics started as a place to treat basic health care needs sinus infections or strep throat. Gradually, CVS added services such as blood extractions or monitoring of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Expect the trend to continue as the drugstore shifts from selling products in its stores to services that can not be purchased online, where retailers face formidable competition like Amazon.

"I think over time you'll see less of that retail store and more health care services in their stores," said Jeff Jonas, a portfolio manager at Gabelli Funds who follows pharmacies.

The giant acquisition combines a company that manages more than 9,700 pharmacies with an insurer covering around 22 million people. CVS Health Corp. is also one of the largest pharmacy benefit managers in the country, processing more than one billion prescriptions per year for clients such as large employers and insurers, including Aetna Inc.

Analysts say the combined company could add more clinics and expand service store to include vision care or perhaps hearing aid centers. That could gradually make CVS a one stop shop for health care, a place where patients can get a revised hearing aid, then see a nurse practitioner and pick up prescriptions.

"If you think about it, we actually put ourselves" Things are not particularly profitable, but they are important because they attract people to stores and help build deeper relationships with customers, "analysts say. ] Clinics have become an attractive option for clients who need basic medical care because they are usually open longer than the family doctor's office A visit to the clinic can also be cheaper than a $ 100 doctor visit for someone who does not have insurance, but they have problems: Family doctors say they know their patients better and can control their general health during a visit instead of just dealing with the problem that caused them.

CVS buyers are also skeptical about their health at a retail store.

Jessy Tatenco, 23, buys home products and medications No prescription for your three children in CVS. But he said he would be reluctant to get medical services there. You feel more comfortable in a doctor's office or in a traditional clinical setting.

"I would not trust them with my medical care, they sell toys," he said after leaving a CVS store on Sunday in downtown San Diego.

CVS is not the only healthcare giant that delves into clinical care. The agreement will help you compete with others like UnitedHealth Group Inc. The nation's largest health insurer also runs clinics and doctors' offices. Like CVS, it also has one of the largest pharmaceutical benefit management businesses in the country.

CVS and Aetna also want to go beyond clinical visits to help patients and clients.

Mark Bertolini, president and CEO of Aetna, has frequently talked about how most of a person's life expectancy is determined by genetics and location and not by clinical care, which is where spending is focused on medical care.

"Our conventional operating model is not effective," Bertolini said earlier this year. "People are angry with this model, it does not work effectively to control costs."

He has spoken of the need to enter the homes of patients to measure what they need, as if they have enough food or they may need transportation. .

CVS can help through your home infusion business, which sends nurses to patients' homes to administer complex medications for people with hemophilia, among other conditions. The locations of clinics and pharmacies could also provide patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes with more convenient options for controlling their blood or counseling about their condition.

Over time, health care experts say it can help prevent these conditions from getting worse and avoid expensive hospital stays.

CVS will pay approximately $ 207 in cash and shares for each Aetna share. The boards of both companies have approved the agreement, and companies expect the agreement to close in the second half of next year.

But antitrust regulators still have to evaluate it.

The Department of Justice said last month that it is suing AT & T to stop its purchase of Time Warner for $ 85 billion. The regulators also sued to stop the purchase by Aetna of its rival Humana Inc., an agreement that disbanded earlier this year.

Aetna and Woonsocket, Rhode Island, based in Hartford, Connecticut, both administer Medicare prescription drug coverage. Some of those businesses may have to be sold to address antitrust concerns. But otherwise, Leerink analyst David Larsen believes that a combination of CVS-Aetna has a good chance of overtaking regulators, in part because companies have little overlap.

AP writers Elliot Spagat in San Diego and David Koenig in Dallas contributed to this report.


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