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CVS and Aetna tighten their grip on market choice with this new plan

On September 1, 2020, Healthcare Dive story explains why employers should be “extraordinarily careful” before signing up for this Aetna plan in 2021.

As we eagerly stumble into 2021, let’s take a quick look back to 2019 for a moment: CVS closed on a mega-merger deal with Aetna designed to give Aetna members access to CVS clinics and other CVS benefits. The merger drew fire then, which were only reignited in September of 2020, when CVS and Aetna announced they were piloting a new health plan in the Kansas City area that would direct members to CVS’ brick and mortar stores. While Aetna Market President Jim Boyman defended the plan’s purpose as to use CVS’ storefront to help consumers more easily manage their health, critics say it’s simply a ploy to take advantage of Aetna’s 40 million members to drive CVS revenue. As CVS also bolsters its healthcare delivery offerings like Minute Clinics and HealthHubs, it’s clear that CVS is tightening its grip on all aspects of healthcare. All of this means a big payor has more control over how, where, when, and with whom patients access healthcare. We think former Federal Trade Commission official David Balto said it best: “You have many choices, as long as they’re CVS.” The plan is launching in 2021 in Kansas City, and you bet we’ll be watching how it goes.

Original Article:

David Balto, former policy director of the FTC, said the plan design would result in less choice and higher costs, and that with it "CVS is moving toward a restricted market approach that would only be attractive in the Soviet Union."

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