- In a recent Aon study, 85% of employers said that healthcare acquisitions, like the CVS-Aetna deal, will have moderate to significant changes on their plan-design strategies and employees' access to health services in the future. The global professional services firm polled 450 HR executives from midsize and large organizations on the impact takeovers in the health industry will have on their plan-design strategies.
- The study shows that 14% of respondents expect significant changes in how healthcare is accessed, 71% expect moderate changes and 15% see no real changes.
- On the integration of medical services and prescription drug benefits, as in CVS's Aetna takeover, 24% of employers already offer both with one company and don't plan to change; 52% offer both under separate companies and don't anticipate changing; 15% offer both under one company, but are thinking about separating out pharmaceuticals; and 9% offer both under separate companies and are considering integrating them under one company.
If HR leaders' instincts are spot on, healthcare mergers & acquisitions (M&As) will have mostly a moderate impact on organizations and employees, at least for now. Just over half of survey respondents currently have separate companies handling medical coverage and pharmacy services.
Such mergers, including CVS-Aetna, could see major backlash from regulators. The U.S. Department of Justice blocked the merger of Aetna and Humana, and Walgreens' takeover of Rite-Aid pharmacies was directed to scale back earlier this year.
The question is: Who benefits from healthcare M&As? To negotiate the best prices with pharmaceutical companies, big organizations have had to change tactics. Some blame pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) for rising pharma costs, citing opaque business practices. Both CVS and Aetna executives contend that their agreement will lower healthcare costs for employers and allow them to continue negotiating lower prescription drug prices. Employers, large and small, will have to wait out the results.