Just a few days since CVS Health announced the company would be working with mega-health insurer Anthem on a prescription drug management program, the pharmacy chain today is reportedly in talks to buy Aetna, the national health insurance company, according to CNBC and other credible news outlets like the Wall Street Journal.

Remember that Aetna’s bid to acquire Humana was scuttled earlier this year after many months of negotiation and positioning, along with FTC scrutiny about antitrust. That insurance merger “died” on one day in February 2017 along with an Anthem-CIGNA deal, covered here by CNN.

A deal between CVS Health and Aetna wouldn’t be subject to that kind of antitrust scrutiny given that this combination would be more of a vertical integration than horizontal expansion in the same industry, which the FTC worried would create monopoly power for insurance pricing in local/regional markets.

By vertically integrating, the CVS+Aetna entity could theoretically better manage healthcare costs through naturally bundling healthcare and pharmacy together, with incentives to manage patient care more holistically. This is certainly good positioning for addressing the Triple Aim and value-based payment that targets peoples’ health outcomes with lowering costs per capita.


I’m writing this as a quick top-of-the mind announcement, and will do a deeper dive in tomorrow’s Health Populi.

For now, let the tectonic healthcare forces under our feet continue to rock and roll! As this growing retail health landscape is my wheelhouse, I’ll be wearing a proverbial helmet, knee pads, and other protective armaments as I try to forecast and analyze the ever-evolving health/care marketplace.