CVS Health wants to do much more than fill your prescription or jab your arm with an annual flu shot.
The second-largest U.S. drugstore chain is buying Aetna, the third-largest health insurer, to push much deeper into customer care. The evolution won’t happen overnight, but in time shoppers may find more clinics in CVS stores and more services they can receive through the network of nearly 10,000 locations that the company has built.
“They’ll be pretty much a soup-to-nuts health company ... except for the hospital part of it,” said Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, a retail consulting and research firm.
Patients may find that the CVS-Aetna combination is much more involved in managing their care, especially for those with expensive chronic conditions like diabetes. The bulked-up company also may gain more negotiating leverage over prescription drug prices, but it’s far too early to say how much or whether that benefit will trickle down to customers.
The $69 billion deal, announced Sunday evening, will push the drugstore chain more forcefully in a direction it has been heading for years, according to Wall Street analysts. The company, which stopped selling tobacco products in 2014 to further burnish its image as a care provider, already runs about 1,100 clinics and has been steadily expanding the health care it offers.