CVS Corp and Aetna Inc deal will affect employee health benefits says U.S. employers

Logos of CVS and Aetna are displayed on a monitor above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S., December 5, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Vastavam web: CVS Corp’s proposed purchase of Aetna Inc will affect decision-making by a majority of large and mid-size U.S. corporations on employee health benefits, a survey by benefits consultant Aon Plc found.CVS, the second-largest U.S. pharmacy benefit manager, on Dec. 3 said it agreed to buy No. 3 health insurer Aetna for $69 billion. Reuters reported earlier this month that the deal would change the way top U.S. employers contract health benefits, based on early feedback from benefits consultants.

Sixty-one percent of survey respondents, including ones that are not customers of CVS or Aetna, said the deal would affect their decision-making process on health benefits, with 23 percent saying it would accelerate a reassessment of healthcare strategy and 38 percent saying it would delay any such moves until the transaction’s impact could be understood.

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.“This is on their radar screen in a bigger way than I would have anticipated,” Winkler said. “Typically employers tend to look at this type of news and think ‘it’s too big, and it’s too far off to matter to me yet.’”