January 30, 2018 — Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced that they are partnering on ways to address healthcare for their U.S. employees, with the aim of improving employee satisfaction and reducing costs. The three companies, which bring their scale and complementary expertise to this long-term effort, will pursue this objective through an independent company that is free from profit-making incentives and constraints, according to the companies. The initial focus of the new company will be on technology solutions that will provide U.S. employees and their families with simplified, high-quality and transparent healthcare at a reasonable cost.
Tackling the enormous challenges of healthcare and harnessing its full benefits are among the greatest issues facing society today. By bringing together three leading organizations into this new and innovative construct, the group hopes to draw on its combined capabilities and resources to take a fresh approach to these critical matters.
“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,” said Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO, Warren Buffett.
“The healthcare system is complex, and we enter into this challenge open-eyed about the degree of difficulty,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “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.”
“Our people want transparency, knowledge and control when it comes to managing their healthcare,” said Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase. “The three of our companies have extraordinary resources, and our goal is to create solutions that benefit our U.S. employees, their families and, potentially, all Americans,” he added.
The new joint effort is in its early planning stages, with the initial formation of the company jointly spearheaded by Todd Combs, an investment officer of Berkshire Hathaway; Marvelle Sullivan Berchtold, a managing director of JPMorgan Chase; and Beth Galetti, a senior vice president at Amazon. The longer-term management team, headquarters location and key operational details will be communicated in due course, the companies said.
While few details are currently known about what exactly the new company's function will be, FierceHealthcare reported that stock shares for the nation's largest health insurers plummeted Tuesday following the announcement.
The Amazon-Berkshire-JPMorgan announcement follows news last week that Apple is launching a trial with select large healthcare providers nationwide to allow patients to download and view their medical records on their iPhones through Apple's Health app. The app already functions as an activity tracker and can aggregate vitals data from other healthcare apps on a user's phone.
"Mounting tension in the healthcare industry, through strained budgets and rising cost pressures, means many players inside and outside the sector are looking for ways to streamline and modernize their processes with the latest technology," said Bill Anderson, business development for health services at Intelenet Global Services, a large global business process outsourcing firm.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.