Payers, Employee Benefits

Aetna rolls out new plan built around CVS pharmacies, retail clinics

The new plan design incorporates some features from Aetna’s parent company. The plan lets members access appointments at HealthHUB and MinuteClinic locations with no copay, and get discounts on health-related items at CVS stores.

A new insurance plan designed by Aetna would steer patients toward its parent company’s health assets. The Aetna Connected plan would let members access appointments at CVS Health’s MinuteClinics and newer HealthHUBs for no copay, along with other features that make use of CVS’ pharmacy business.

The insurer is test-driving the new plan in the Kansas City metro, to start. The new plan will be available starting in January and is designed for companies with more than 101 employees.

“It’s all about meeting our members where they are to increase engagement, improve outcomes and reduce health care costs,” Aetna’s local market president, Jim Boyman, said in a news release.

CVS closed its $70 billion acquisition of Aetna in late 2018. Since then, the two behemoths have been working to integrate their respective businesses, with this being the latest offering.

At the same time, CVS has been leaning further into its retail health strategy, with plans to roll out 1,500 HealthHUB stores by 2021. The remodeled locations have more space dedicated to health services, with an emphasis on services for patients with chronic conditions. In addition to clinics, these stores offer other services, such as phlebotomy labs or sleep apnea assessments. They also have a space that can be used for yoga, nutritional seminars and other wellness-related classes.

In a recent earnings call, CVS CEO Larry Merlo said the company had seen a 15% increase in visits associated with services for chronic conditions at its HealthHUBs. Customers that come in for health services also generally buy more while they’re in the store than those who don’t, according to JD Power.

As part of Aetna’s new plan, members will have access to discounts in health-related items in CVS stores, free prescription delivery and a 24/7 pharmacist helpline.

Outside of CVS’ clinics, members will have access to Aetna’s local network, which covers 13 hospitals and 8,300 specialists on both sides of the Kansas-Missouri state line. Aetna claims premiums for the new plans are 20% cheaper than other PPO plans in the region.

Photo credit: CVS