Early this week came news just about as big as anything theinsurance world has seen in the past few years:CVS has agreed to acquire Aetna for $69billion. Pending approval of the merger, there are severalimplications to highlight for the benefits industry, specificallyas it would affect benefits advisors.

First, this deal makes it even more clear that the battlegroundin the insurance and health care spaces is distribution. Acombined CVS and Aetna prove that the biggest players in theirrespective spaces (retail / pharmacy and insurance) are willing tobet on reinventing how health care is delivered. They aim to dothis by integrating the actual manufacturing of “products” (healthcare) and how that “product” is distributed (via the nearly 10,000retail pharmacies CVS currently operates).

It also highlights the importance of insurance companies andbenefits advisors having access to data that can inform and shapethe way that health care is designed, delivered, and evolved overtime. As one of the most omnipresent retail chains in the country,CVS has access to a boatload of data about consumers: not only whatprescriptions you take, but also what over-the-counter medicine andother products you buy. Aetna, on the other hand, has the providerrelationships and of course, the insurance itself. Those are twomassive puzzle pieces that should fit nicely together in order todeliver a more seamless and intelligent health care experience tothe consumer.

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