Cigna announced on March 8th that it plans to buy pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) Express Scripts, in a deal worth $52 billion.  This agreement is the latest of several announced mergers in the health care industry.  Late last year, CVS Health announced a deal to buy Aetna.  Other significant deals in recent history that did not go through were Anthem trying to buy Cigna and Aetna attempting to acquire Humana.  There has been a lot of activity in this area driven, in part, by increased competition from companies like Amazon who are trying to find innovative solutions to higher healthcare costs.

Express Scripts is the largest remaining independent PBM.  It’s biggest competitors are PBMs run by UnitedHealth Group and CVS Health Corp.

In a statement to its clients, Cigna said the combined company will bring together “two innovative, complementary and customer-centric health service leaders to chart a healthier, more affordable, and more personalized health care journey for consumers.”

What does this mean for employers and health plan sponsors?  The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.  Until then, and typically for a period following the close, clients will see little, if any, change to their relationships with either company.