UNUSUAL MERGER OF DRUG STORES, INSURERS AND HOSPITALS

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They seem like odd couples: Aetna, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, is in talks to combine with CVS Health, which manages pharmacy benefits. The Cleveland Clinic, a highly regarded health system, joined forces with an insurance start-up, Oscar Health, to offer individuals a health plan in Ohio.

Aetna also has new partnerships with large health systems that include hospitals and doctors’ groups in Northern California and Virginia.

These established players are venturing beyond their traditional lines of business, now that federal officials have quashed the mega-mergers proposed by the biggest insurers and blocked a deal between two large drugstore chains.

Former adversaries are banding together, girding against upheaval in a rapidly changing health care environment. They are also bracing for the threats posed by interlopers like Amazon eyeing a foray into the pharmacy business or tech companies offering virtual medical care via a computer or cellphone.

“There’s been a strong trend for health organizations to want to broaden their footprint, especially on the part of insurers to get more direct contact with the individual,” said Dr. John W. Rowe, a former hospital and insurance executive who is a professor of health policy at Columbia University.–New York Times

Health Care Expert Jeff Kanter, Co-Founder: My Academy of Health Excellence
Healthcare Insurance Expert @PatientDocPower

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