Poll: CVS, Aetna Merger Could Impact Health Benefits

In December 2017, CVS Health announced plans to purchase the health insurer Aetna for $69 billion, and according to a survey of decision-makers at 450 medium- and large-sized corporations, the move will affect employee health benefit decisions.

The survey found that 23 percent of respondents said it would accelerate a reassessment of health-care strategy at their corporations. Thirty-eight percent said they would delay reassessments until they could fully understand the merger transaction’s impact. The remaining 39 percent said they expected no change to their overall health-care strategy resulting from this merger.

The survey did not assess whether major employers expect the deal to change the cost of health benefits. However, 71 percent of respondents expect moderate changes to where and how employees access care, and 14 percent said they foresee significant changes.

“This is on their radar screen in a bigger way than I would have anticipated,” said Jim Winkler, senior vice president for health at Aon, the firm that conducted the survey. “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.’”

Among a smaller group of 210 respondents, 52 percent said they planned to keep pharmacy benefits separate from medical coverage, and an additional 15 percent said they are considering separating those contracts.

Source: Reuters, December 17, 2017.