CVS, the nation’s third largest pharmacy was reported to be in discussions to acquire the third largest insurance company, Aetna, for $69 billion. The deal received headline attention across the country and not just because how it could impact insurance policies, options from employers, and access to care, but how it might affect secondary systems, including home care.
It’s true that CVS and Aetna have been partners for several years, but this merger was announced not long after Amazon -the major online retailer- was reported to be looking at delving into the health care sector. Some sources report that Amazon, which has been seeking to expand into other vital markets beyond consumerism, is not afraid to fail and other companies are striving to stay ahead of this competition.
However, a deal such as this could affect employers and how they offer insurance coverage options and home care services.
According to US News in the blog, U.S. Employers Say CVS-Aetna Deal Would Affect Health-Benefits Decisions: Survey, written by Caroline Humer:
“A majority of large employers contract with separate companies to provide prescription drug coverage and medical coverage, believing they can keep costs lower in that way. Combining CVS with Aetna would leave only one major pharmacy benefits company, Express Scripts Holding Co, operating as a standalone entity. CVS and Aetna argue they can offer bigger savings to customers by better managing prescription drug use and expanding lower-cost medical services offered at thousands of CVS pharmacies.
Jim Winkler, Aon senior vice president for health, said he was surprised that as many companies thought they might make a change in their overall healthcare strategy, whether immediately or down the road.”
Home care is often relied upon for acute care during medical crises, including following a hospital stay. If the third largest insurance company is taken over by the third largest pharmacy, the impact on home care may appear minimal on the surface, but how this merger may affect the overall health care industry in the years ahead could have a lasting impact on secondary supportive services like home care and hospice.
If certain options become limited, such as what some employers may be able to offer their employees regarding insurance policies, it may only be a matter of time before home care options that are covered are also affected.
This merger, though, isn’t the only one grabbing national headlines as the insurance giant Humana is also in talks to acquire Kindred Healthcare, which could directly and more immediately affect home care options for those currently served by Kindred.
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