Employers say acquisition announcements likely to impact future health care strategies

Recent acquisition announcements in the health care industry, if approved, could not only change the way U.S. employers design their future health care strategies, but also the way individuals access health care in the future. This is according to a pulse survey from Aon.

On December 14, Aon asked 450 HR leaders from large and mid-size employers about potential implications the recently announced CVS/Aetna and other potential deals, such as Optum and DaVita Medical, could have on their health care strategies. According to the survey, a significant majority (85 percent) think there will be either significant or moderate changes to the way people access care in the future:

  • 14 percent expect significant changes in how/where people will access health care;
  • 71 percent expect moderate changes in how/where people will access health care; and
  • 15 percent expect no real impact in how and where people access health care.

The survey also found that six out of 10 say they are likely to make changes to their health care strategies, though there are differences in how quickly those changes will happen:

  • 23 percent expect the changes will accelerate revisiting/adjusting their overall health care strategy;
  • 38 percent expect the changes will delay revisiting/adjusting their overall health care strategy (i.e., “wait-and-see” approach); and
  • 39 percent expect the changes will have no impact on their overall health care strategy.

“These results tell us that employers think these deals, particularly a potential CVS/Aetna combination, are meaningful and will have important implications to the way employees and their families access health care,” said Jim Winkler, global chief innovation officer for Aon’s Health and Benefits group. “Certainly, the specifics of how these deals unfold will influence how employers respond; it will be important for employers to monitor all of these situations as they take shape.”

A separate question asked to a subset of the group (210 individuals) revealed that most will not re-visit their medical and pharmacy vendor approach, with most anticipating keeping their current carve-out model:

  • 24 percent currently integrate medical and pharmacy with one company and anticipate no changes to their approach;
  • 52 percent currently have medical and pharmacy managed by separate companies and anticipate no changes to their approach;
  • 15 percent currently have medical and pharmacy integrated with one company and will consider carving out pharmacy; and
  • 9 percent currently have medical and pharmacy managed by separate companies and will consider integrating with one company.

“Many industry experts believe the CVS/Aetna merger could prompt employers to change the way they currently manage their medical and pharmacy benefits,” noted Winkler. “Our results show that most employers have no plans to change the way they currently deliver these benefits, which leads us to believe they see this deal as being something more than just a medical and pharmacy integration play.”

SOURCE: www.aon.com
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