A healthcare model from the combined forces of Amazon, JP Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway could catch on.
For the moment at least, the goal of the three titans is to cut costs for their U.S. employees and use technology to change how healthcare is provided to them. The companies, which are the three largest private employers in the U.S., said in a brief joint statement that the new, standalone firm would be “free from profit-making incentives and constraints.”
“Our people want transparency, knowledge and control when it comes to managing their healthcare," said Jamie Dimon, Chairman and Chief Executive of JPMorgan Chase. "The three of our companies have extraordinary resources, and our goal is to create solutions that benefit our US employees, their families and, potentially, all Americans."
Given Amazon’s upending of the retail sector, speculation within the healthcare industry is growing. While focused only on the three giants’ own staff for now, the plan has the potential to disrupt the broader healthcare industry. The announcement quickly had a negative impact on health insurer stocks, with shares in UnitedHealth, Anthem and Cigna all tumbling more than 5% in early trading. Express Scripts Holding Co. and CVS Health Corp., which manage pharmacy benefits, also took a hit.
“I’m in favor of anything that helps move the markets a bit, incentivizes competition and puts pressure on the big insurance carriers,” said Ashraf Shehata, a partner in KPMG’s healthcare and life sciences advisory practice in the U.S. “An employer coalition can do a lot of things. You can encourage reimbursement models and provide incentives for the use of technology.”
The company is in the early planning stages, and the BBC reports that its initial formation will be led by Todd Combs, an Investment Officer with Berkshire Hathaway, Marvelle Sullivan Berchtold, a Managing Director of JPMorgan Chase, and Beth Galetti, a Senior Vice President at Amazon. The company’s structure, operations and longer-term senior management have yet to be determined. The group has said it plans to hire a CEO and start partnering with other organizations.
"The healthcare system is complex, and we enter into this challenge open-eyed about the degree of difficulty," said Amazon founder and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos. "Hard as it might be, reducing healthcare's burden on the economy while improving outcomes for employees and their families would be worth the effort”, he added, “Success is going to require talented experts, a beginner's mind, and a long-term orientation."