A major move in the health industry over the weekend could change the healthcare landscape in Southern California.
Drugstore giant CVS Health says it will buy health insurer Aetna in a deal worth about $69 billion. It's a merger that could bring essential health services to more people. But some worry that the arrangement could limit customer choice.
The deal will need federal approval before it can be finalized. Even then, the full effect of the merger on everyday consumers will take time to become clear.
There are, however, some indicators that might tell customers how the pairing could affect the health landscape in Southern California.
Chad Terhune, a senior correspondent for California Healthline and Kaiser Health News, joined Take Two to explain.
1. Convenient care:
It's kind of a pain right now to get a doctor's appointment sometimes — particularly just to get a checkup or something minor. Their idea is that the CVS store would become their community health center.
You would go there for your checkups, maybe to take your kids for their sports physical, to pick up your prescriptions, vision, hearing tests. They want it to become the hub and maybe go there instead of trying to get that appointment at the doctor's office.
2. Lower drug prices:
[The companies] say that as they get bigger, they can negotiate better terms with drugmakers. I think we need to be a little wary about these promises. Many of these companies merged and they often say, 'We're going to get lower prices for you. We're going to pass on the savings.' But as we've seen with a lot of past mergers, there might be some savings, but the companies hold onto that. It goes to their bottom line and maybe rewards their investors. Consumers don't always get those savings.
3. Health insurance premiums:
Aetna right now is the third-largest health insurer. This would maybe be an idea where, if I'm an employer, maybe now I go with Aetna and CVS. Maybe they can deliver me lower premiums. All of us as workers would like that. But again, that remains to be seen: are we really going to see those lower healthcare costs?
Press the blue play button above to hear what this planned merger says about the future of healthcare in the country.