Amazon and JP Morgan Announce Health Care Startup for Employees

 

“The healthcare system is complex, and we enter into this challenge open-eyed about the degree of difficulty,” Amazon founder Jeff Bezos explained. “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. Success is going to require talented experts, a beginner’s mind, and a long-term orientation.”

The not-for-profit startup will — at least in the beginning –  focus on developing technology to deliver “simplified, high-quality and transparent healthcare” to the companies’ employees. Combined, it’s estimated that the companies employ more than 500,000 U.S. workers, emphasizing the potential impact of this entrance into the world of health care.

At this time, the companies aren’t offering details on their approach or specifics on what services they might offer, but the plan is being hailed as ambitious.

Tech companies in particular have attempted similar moves before. Google’s parent company Alphabet has tried various approaches to health care, like Google Health. While that health data initiative shut down in 2012, Alphabet’s other projects, including Verily Life Sciences and Deep Mind still continue.

These programs all skirt directly offering health care services to the general public, however, and there some good reasons for that choice: Health care is a notoriously difficult service to provide because of the — arguably necessary — amount of regulatory hurdles that any new startup must overcome. And that’s been enough to prevent smaller companies from making much headway, as well as preventing any major competition to the multi-billion dollar health insurance and pharmaceutical industry.

But this new not-for-profit cooperative could be a competitive contender. For one thing, calling Amazon a tech company overlooks its physical presence across the globe, something that’s growing with each new venture, like grocery shopping and delivery. And even though Amazon has a number of detractors – not to mention the controversial working environments many of its warehouse employees report – the company maintains considerable power in international markets.

Paired with the sheer resources of JPMorgan Chase, America’s multinational banking and financial services company, and Berkshire Hathaway, the holding company made famous in part by Warren Buffett’s leadership, it certainly seems that this health care initiative could have legs.

Buffet explained the motivation behind the decision:

The ballooning costs of healthcare act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy. Our group does not come to this problem with answers. But we also do not accept it as inevitable. Rather, we share the belief that putting our collective resources behind the country’s best talent can, in time, check the rise in health costs while concurrently enhancing patient satisfaction and outcomes.

While American satisfaction with health care tends to hover around 65 percent, it would be difficult to argue that there isn’t room for significant improvement. Price-gouging pharmaceutical companies continue to make money off vulnerable Americans, while the federal government and the president have systematically rolled back protections for minority communities.

Although it remains to be seen if this new venture partially address those problems, it certainly seems like the time is right for a new player on the health care market that can — hopefully — prioritize patients over profits.

Photo credit: ali asaria.

41 comments

Danuta Watola
Danuta W6 days ago

thank you for posting

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Chrissie R
Chrissie R7 days ago

Thank you for posting.

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Sophie L
Sophie L7 days ago

Thank you

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FOTEINI c
FOTEINI chormpou3 months ago

it's unbelievable that these 2 famous firms didn't have health policy so far...

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Jan S
Jan S3 months ago

thank you

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JT Smith
Past Member 3 months ago

Healthcare should be considered a universal right, including veterinary care, and never a business. As long as healthcare is a business, profits will ALWAYS matter more than your life or the lives of your loved ones.

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JT Smith
Past Member 3 months ago

Healthcare should be considered a universal right, including veterinary care, and never a business. As long as healthcare is a business, profits will ALWAYS matter more than your life or the lives of your loved ones.

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JT Smith
Past Member 3 months ago

Healthcare should never be a business. It is because healthcare is treated as business that there haven't been any actual new cures in many decades. Hell, they're still kicking themselves for curing polio (which they've begun to change by no longer inoculating everyone the way they used to). Because healthcare is a business we're instead given ways to "live with" our health issues. We're presented with medications that are rushed to market in order to manage the problem; because cures are permanent aren't profitable.

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Winn Adams
Winn Adams3 months ago

Noted

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Winn Adams
Winn Adams3 months ago

Thanks

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