Health

CVS and Aetna: Driving Down Health Insurance Costs Soon?

Chris Surrency

It appears we’re on the verge of a very interesting time in the United States as it relates to healthcare. With the news this weekend that CVS will be buying Aetna we’ve been thrown into uncharted territory as a retail pharmacy and clinic outfit will now control one of the largest insurance companies around. The timing is convenient when you consider that the upcoming Republican tax plan could impact those on, or approaching the ability to be on, Medicare and Medicaid. This could become the most convenient merger in my lifetime, offering healthcare to people at a much less expensive, far more convenient way. Then again, it could become one of the worst clusters in history by limiting then options of those who use Aetna to CVS locations only if they’re looking for healthcare. We’ve been hoping something better would come along, something would force change in the industry, and something would make it far more affordable to keep yourself alive and healthy. While there is a chance this could be the positive option we’ve been holding out hope for, but on the flipside of this whole thing could blow up in our faces as we get forced into a “one stop shop” outfit for all your healthcare needs, and refusing coverage if you dare go outside the network.

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There are benefits to be had in this merger as CVS runs over 10,000 drugstores, and they’ve been making strides in the medical community by actually opening walk-in clinics. Their partnership with Target has helped them reach more people, providing a specialty pharmacy setting that handles higher prices drugs. CVS also bought a majority stake in Caremark about 10 years back, so not only do they offer walk-in treatment but they are also a primary force in helping insurers manage their prescription plans, including negotiating better prices for the insurers from drug manufacturers. Now that they will be the insurer themselves there is an even greater benefit to negotiating the lowest price possible for their plans, as it will mean lower cost on their end as a provider, which theoretically should mean better prices for the consumer. If things are done properly this could be a great deal for the consumer, it could mean lower prices for treatment, office visits, and possibly insurance in general for a large portion of Americans. We’ll have to see in what direction they end up going, personally I hope for the positive.

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There are always counterpoints to be found on any argument, in this case it sounds amazing on the surface, which leads to the question of what exactly could be a down side? One thing people have mentioned is looking back at a merger in 2004 between WellPoint and Anthem, the thought was that this merger would allow consumers medical data to he accessed through the new massive computer network that was created. The problem being that we’re sitting at nearly a decade and a half later and the supposed benefits haven’t really played out for consumers as expected. Another potential problem for consumers, a pretty big one as well, is that the entire deal could be blown apart by Uncle Sam instead of being allowed to proceed. There are those who feel this could put too much power into the hands of one combined company, especially with CVS already having plans in place to work with Anthem starting in 2020, and as a result the government could ground it before take off. I have hopes that it’ll all work out in the end, and that it’ll be much more good than bad for consumers. Only time will tell how it all plays out, this is a massive merger, so the direct impact may not be felt for years to come.

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Chris Surrency

Chris Surrency is an aspiring author and article writer with opinions on many different topics. He fell in love with writing as a child in elementary school and has taken any occasion possible to let the words that roll around in his head come out whether it be in a notebook or on a computer. Chris got his first opportunity to write online at WWENews.net, a subsidiary site for Wrestling News World, posting opinion pieces. He later joined the Yahoo Contributor's Network, covering many topics from science to video games and back to sports, and almost all points in between, he posted well over one hundred articles up until the moment Yahoo dismantled the network. Since that time he's provided content to different sites online, written his first novel, and eventually made his way to MCXV where he's finally capturing the enjoyment he once found while writing at Yahoo once again.