MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A drugstore giant is joining forces with one of America’s largest health insurers. CVS has announced it has a deal to buy Aetna for $69 billion dollars.
If the deal goes through it could trigger a major shake-up of the healthcare industry.
CVS runs over 9,700 drugstores and more than 1,000 walk-in clinics. Aetna’s healthcare plans cover roughly 22 million people.
By joining forces with Aetna, CVS says they envision their locations becoming something of a community based medical center that includes space for wellness, clinical and pharmacy services as well as vision, hearing, nutrition, beauty and medical equipment.
Combining the operations of CVS, which also owns pharmacy benefits manager and mail order pharmacy Caremark, with a major insurer like Aetna could make it easier for people to monitor diseases without having to see a doctor.
CVS CEO Larry Merlo said during a conference call with analysts Monday that the combined resources of CVS and Aetna could make the pharmacies and walk-in clinics kind of like the medical version of the Genius Bar at Apple Stores, with experts dispensing quick, convenient and reliable health care knowledge.
“The combined company will also be able to better understand patients’ health goals, guide them through the health care system, and help them achieve their best health. There will be expanded opportunities to bring health care services to consumers every day,” the companies added in a release.
The proposed mega merger comes as the companies face new competitors, including Amazon, which after expanding beyond basic retail products into groceries started inching into the health care business.
The deal still has to be approved by shareholders and antitrust regulators, who have been skeptical of similar health care mergers.
If approved, it would be the largest health insurance deal in history, far exceeding Express Scripts’ $29 billion acquisition of Medco in 2012, the last record-holder.
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