CVS to Buy Aetna for $69 Billion

CVS Health announced on Sunday that it had agreed to buy Aetna for about $69 billion in a deal that would combine the drugstore giant with one of the biggest health insurers in the United States.

The transaction, reflects the industry trend toward tighter vertical integration between health insurers and care providers. More and more health care that was once delivered in a doctor’s office is now delivered over the phone, at a retail clinic, the internet or via an app.

The merger continues the trend of transformation in health care and a mega merger is not surprising on the heels of the failed Cigna/Anthem and Humana/Aetna mergers earlier this year. Insurers, hospitals and pharmacy companies are attempting to plan for changes in government programs like Medicare as a result of the Republicans’ plan to cut taxes, the questionable future of the Affordable Care Act, while employers and consumers are struggling with rising medical costs, including the soaring price of prescription drugs. And rapid changes in technology have raised the specter of new competitors.