CVS Health has introduced Aetna Virtual Primary Care, connecting consumers with physicians and specialists anytime and anywhere. This new care experience is powered by Teladoc Health’s physician-led care team model, combined with the Aetna provider network and CVS Health physical services.
Aetna members can access the service with a $0 co-pay for virtual visits and certain in-person services at MinuteClinic and CVS HealthHUB locations, once their deductible is met on qualified high-deductible health plans. The initial visit is 30 to 45 minutes long, and users can continue to see a consistent team of specialists based on their health needs.
Additionally, Aetna Virtual Primary Care includes access to a virtual nurse care team through unlimited in-app text or phone conversations. The option is available before, during and after visits and can help users find in-person clinics and contact local providers and testing facilities.
“The future of digital health solutions is rapidly unfolding,” said Dan Finke, EVP at CVS Health and President of Aetna in a statement. “Aetna Virtual Primary Care is a first-of-its-kind health care solution that provides a simple, affordable, convenient way for eligible members to receive quality primary care from a physician-led care team that knows them and is accessible from virtually anywhere.”
The marriage of retail and wellness, or “medtail,” grew slowly over the past several years but has been surging since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. A survey by Tether Advisors found that 76% of private equity, commercial real estate and retail healthcare respondents believe COVID-19 has positively impacted retail healthcare as an investment target, and some of retail’s largest players are getting in on the opportunity.
In June 2021, Walmart expanded its healthcare offerings through the Walmart+ Rx for less program, which offers paid Walmart+ members select medications at no cost and discounts of up to 85% on thousands of additional prescription items. Earlier Walmart moves into the healthcare space include:
- Opening a primary care clinic in September 2019;
- Acquiring assets from CareZone, a mobile app designed to help individuals and families manage medicine and chronic illness, in June 2020;
- Helping distribute the COVID vaccine in December 2020; and
- Providing customers with proof of vaccination in March 2021.
Amazon has likewise exhibited interest in healthcare, with an emphasis on pharmaceutical delivery. Amazon Pharmacy launched six-month prescriptions for Prime members, starting at a cost of $6 for common ailments, in June 2021. The ecommerce titan entered pharmaceuticals with the acquisition of PillPack in 2018 and has since focused on building off this base.
Currently, CVS has a significant leg up over its medtail competitors due to having its own insurance provider in Aetna. The retailer made the acquisition for $78 billion in November 2018 to broaden its healthcare offerings. Walmart reportedly had its sights on Humana in 2018, but despite ongoing cooperation between the companies an acquisition never materialized.