CVS agrees to buy Aetna in $69 billion deal that could shake up health-care industry, people familiar with the deal said – Orange County Register

Pharmacy giant CVS Health has agreed to buy Aetna in a $69 billion blockbuster acquisition that could rein in health-care costs and transform its 9,700 pharmacy storefronts into community medical hubs for primary care and basic procedures, people familiar with the deal said Sunday, Dec. 3.

The pharmacy chain agreed to buy Aetna for about $207 per share, or $69 billion.

If approved by regulators, the mega-merger would create a giant healthcare company, allowing CVS to provide a broad range of health services to Aetna’s 22 million medical members at its nationwide network of pharmacies and walk-in clinics, and further decrease the drug store titan’s reliance on the retail sales that have faced increasing competition.

And the deal is likely to set off even more mergers in the health-care industry, which has been undergoing consolidation and faces potential new competition from Amazon.

“I think it will create more consolidation among the insurers and retailers, blurring the lines,” said Ana Gupte, an analyst at Leerink Partners, who recently pointed to retail giants Walgreens Boots Alliance or Walmart as potential “dark horse acquirers” of the health insurer Humana.

Wall Street analysts have said that the deal could lower health spending — if, for example, CVS can push customers to use walk-in clinics instead of an emergency room for minor problems. But consumer advocates argue the deal would limit consumer choice and could make it even harder for new companies to enter into a market increasingly dominated by behemoth companies.

Even before the announcement, the familiar drugstore chain has been a dominant player in the big business of negotiating drug prices for insurers and employees. The merger would give CVS an even broader role in managing health care.

The combined company could leverage massive amounts of data from both Aetna’s medical claims and CVS’s vast number of touchpoints to consumers, including its 9,700 retail stores and 1,100 MinuteClinics.

CVS could turn those locations into a kind of community health hub, where pharmacists and nurses provide follow-up and monitoring to patients recently released from the hospital — and so help avoid re-admission. (Hospital readmissions are a growing cost in health care).

The storefronts could also transform preventative care, offering wellness, nutrition and even imaging services — saving costs by keeping people healthier and providing care in a lower-cost setting than a…

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