Will CVS-Aetna Deal Benefit Patients? One Expert Thinks Not

Mar 16, 2018

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In Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal's book, An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back. She describes the health care system as a dysfunctional market, where the same prescription you’ve had for 20 years can suddenly more than double in price overnight.

CVS Health’s chief executive said the Woonsocket-based company’s plan to buy  health insurer Aetna will lower drug prices for consumers, but Dr. Rosenthal isn’t so sure. 

Rosenthal said she has doubts about claims from CVS Health that buying the Aetna insurance company will reduce costs for patients. She said the CVS-Aetna deal may produce savings, but not necessarily for consumers.

"So I guess the question is, what happens to that money that’s saved? And what we often see, particularly when the companies, as is true in this case, when they’re for-profit companies is that that money goes to shareholders and really doesn’t benefit patients," Rosenthal said.

Even with Congress’s failure to officially repeal the Affordable Care Act, our healthcare system is desperately broken.  No proposed reforms have addressed the fact that the cost of medical care in the U.S. has grown far beyond what most people can afford, and pharmaceutical giant CVS’s recent acquisition of Aetna only underscores what Americans have known for years: Our healthcare system is now in the money-making business and not the healing one.In 2017, public polling showed that fixing healthcare was the number one political priority of Democrats, Republicans and Independents, surpassing jobs and terrorism.

Credit Penguin Random House

For twenty-two years, Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal worked as a reporter, correspondent, and senior writer at The New York Times before becoming the editor in chief of Kaiser Health News, an independent journalism newsroom focusing on health and health policy. She holds an MD from Harvard Medical School, trained in internal medicine, and has worked as an ER physician. Her book, An American Sickness,  is a New York Times best seller and currently available in paperback.