Lehigh Valley

What the CVS and Aetna merger could mean for you

The drugstore chain CVS has reached a blockbuster agreement to acquire Aetna, one of the nation's largest health insurers.

This is the biggest deal ever in the health insurance industry at about $69 billion.

Assuming it goes through, it could change the services available at your neighborhood CVS. 

The idea, they say, is to make CVS more of a one-stop healthcare hub for drugs, insurance, and even treatment.

Not just for flu shots, but routine care. 

"They get their drugs, they get their groceries, and now they can see their doctor," said Kyle McLemore, Director of Business Development for Equinox in Emmaus. 

His company provides benefits services for businesses. 

McLemore is skeptical the merger will lead to lower drug prices, as CVS suggests.

"Overall, that's not really been the trend in the insurance marketplace," said McLemore. 

The acquisition comes at a volatile time.

Amazon reportedly may jump into the drug market and turn it upside down. 

"They may buy a direct manufacturer and try to get prices direct to consumers without a middleman," McLemore said.

And, he says, other companies could follow the CVS/Aetna lead.

"You'll probably look for a national player like UnitedHealth…to maybe partner up with Walgreens or something like that," he hypothesized. 

This consolidation worries Bill Bloss, Chairman of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce's healthcare committee. 

"Consumers have to be concerned about removal of competition in the marketplace," he said. 

Bloss worries Aetna patients could be forced to get services from CVS. 

"As a consumer, I want to have choices," he said. "There has to be a concern there that CVS…and Aetna subscribers are going to be controlled by the merger."

Shareholders of both companies and regulators must approve the deal.

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