Itâ€™s only day two and already weâ€™ve heard a lot of nay-saying about the merger between Hartford-based Aetna and CVS. Frankly, we agree that anything that affects so many people - employees, policyholders, customers - should be approached with caution.
That said, we also know that the health care system, as it is now, is hurting consumers, both in terms of easy access to care and in terms of cost. As a result, we canâ€™t help feeling that, if two companies we have traditionally trusted want to experiment a bit with health care delivery, it could be a positive step.
CVS already offers in-store clinics that help with simple medical needs - strep throat, a sinus infection, a cut or a scrap. But soon, according to the Associated Press, patients may find the CVS-Aetna combination much more involved in managing their care, especially for those with expensive chronic conditions like diabetes. That could gradually turn CVS into a one-stop-shop for health care, a place where patients can get a hearing aid checked, then see a nurse practitioner and pick up prescriptions. As a bonus, AP suggests, a clinic visit may also be cheaper than a $100 doctor visit for someone who doesnâ€™t have insurance.
And, just as important, the merged company may also gain more negotiating leverage over prescription drug prices, which have soared in the last few years.
At this point, these are just ideas but, with the Affordable Care Act once again in jeopardy, if they lead to new ways of providing basic services - without breaking the patientâ€™s bank - this merger might open the door to welcome experimentation in the health care system.