The pending merger between CVS Health Corp. and Aetna Inc.—their “grand experiment”—stands to disrupt current health care models in more ways than one, experts say. The key, of course, is execution.

If CVS and Aetna complete the $69 billion deal they announced this past December, the combined company would have 9,700 CVS Pharmacy stores, 1,100 MinuteClinic walk-in clinics, and about 4,000 CVS Health clinic and home care nurses. CVS says it intends to operate Aetna as a stand-alone business; CVS Caremark already serves as Aetna's pharmacy benefits manager (PBM).

CVS, as an integrated health care company, would also offer community-based health hubs, “dedicated to connecting the pathways needed to improve health and answering patients' questions about their health conditions, as well as prescriptions drugs and health coverage.”

The move has been praised as “revolutionary” and the industry has expressed no shortage of opinions about the deal's impact on the future of health care. Here are just a few insights from benefits and health care experts on how the merger could impact the health care sector.

Brian Marcotte, CEO, National Business Group on Health

Washington, D.C.

“This acquisition is unlike others we've seen in health care, which have been more horizontal than vertical. We've seen other vertical acquisitions, such as hospitals becoming insurers, but the concern we've had is that there's not a good track record of these health care mergers improving customer experience or lowering the cost of health care.

“What's interesting about this one is that it does have the potential to create better access and more convenience to consumers through CVS' retail pharmacy network. However, CVS will need to expand the number of its clinics, and not just the number of locations, but maybe also the breadth of services in order to do that. If they can deliver that, it could result in lower costs for these types of services.”

 

Jim Winkler, global chief innovation officer of health, Aon

Norwalk, Connecticut

“In a typical merger-of-equals by competitors in the same space, it's really about integration—taking out costs. But since this transaction is by adjacent players in different parts of the health ecosystem, it's really important for the leaders to think about how to build a combined company that's driven by innovation and transformation in the marketplace.”

 

Dinesh Sheth, chief executive, Green Circle Health

Pensacola Beach, Florida

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