Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase & Co to partner on US employee healthcare.
Amazon is in the business of revolutions. Apart from single-handedly changing the way consumers buy books, the retail giant also completely upended the publishing industry, giving voice, respectability, and income to authors whose books would have otherwise languished in the rejection slush pile. With the Kindle e-reader, Amazon even changed the way we read. Since the days of the very first book sold on their website, the company has invested its profits back in its own innovation lab, changing our daily lives in dozens of ways.
But nothing that Amazon has done so far stands to be as life-changing as its latest venture: healthcare. Together with the heads of JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway, Amazon–or more specifically, its CEO and founder Jeff Bezos–is in the process of forming a healthcare company to handle the US epidemic of skyrocketing costs coupled with lack of affordable insurance coverage.
Ingredients for success
The project is so new that the company hasn’t even released a name yet, but already the hope is building. These three companies are uniquely poised to succeed where other tech companies have failed, namely because they have strong histories of acquiring smaller companies and boosting them up so the product or service they offer is more streamlined and more effective.
Lack of competition
Of course, one of the biggest financial millstones around the necks of US healthcare consumers is the lack of competition. A citizen living in one state cannot purchase a readily affordable group health insurance plan from another state, a fact that the health insurance lobby pays big money to ensure won’t change. If this new company is poised to change those regulations or (even better) to use every Chase bank, Berkshire Hathaway real estate holding, or Amazon distribution center as a “presence” in that state–a ploy that state governments used all across the country to force Amazon into paying state sales taxes a few years ago–we could see the glorious launch of Amazon Prime Health, a health insurance package that any Prime member could purchase at Amazon’s competitive prices.
Unfortunately, the new venture’s goal is limited to improving healthcare for Amazon, JP Chase Morgan, and Berkshire Hathaway employees. Perhaps the day will come when the new coverage these CEOs create will extend to anyone who buys in.