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4 things consumers should know about CVS, Aetna blockbuster merge

HOUSTON – A blockbuster merger rocking the health care industry as CVS and Aetna join forces. Here's what you need to know. 

What's the deal?

CVS Health announced Monday it was buying health insurer Aetna for $69 billion.

What does it do?

The merger combines the drugstore retail chain's 20,000 stores and walk-in clinics with the third largest health insurance provider that covers 20 million people. CVS also owns pharmacy benefit provider Caremark. 

What does it mean for consumers?

The two companies say it will change the face of health care in the United States. 

"To create a new health care platform that can be easier to use and less expensive for consumers and really create a new front door to health care in our country," said CVS Caremark president and CEO Larry Menlo. 

But industry analysts said it's too early to say whether the move will actually lower health care costs.

"It is not clear cut whether this is going to work in the advantage of consumers who will have better control of medical records will have a bigger entity bargaining with pharmaceutical companies or whether the new Aetna/CVS is going to gang up and use it's market power against consumers," said Seth Chandler, with the University of Houston Law School's Health Policy and Law Institute.

It's also unknown whether people with other insurance and pharmacy plans will be able to benefit from the merger. 

When will the merger take effect?

The deal is expected to go through by mid 2018, pending approval of the companies shareholders and the U. S. Department of Justice.