Amazon, Buffett and JPMorgan join forces on health care
NEW YORK (AP) — Three of corporate America’s heaviest hitters — Amazon, Warren Buffett and JPMorgan Chase — sent a shudder through the health industry Tuesday when they announced plans to jointly create a company to provide their employees with highquality, affordable care.
The announcement was short on details about precisely what the independent company will do. But given the three players’ outsize influence — and Amazon’s ability to transform just about everything it touches — the alliance has the potential to shake up how Americans shop for health care, and the stocks of insurance companies, drug distributors and others slumped in reaction.
“One of the messages they are sending is they’ve given up on traditional ways in which employers have tried to reduce costs or manage costs better,” said Paul Fronstin, an economist with the nonprofit Employee Benefits Research Institute.
Benefits experts speculated that this new company could create a virtual marketplace that makes shopping for health care as easy as buying a shirt on Amazon. Or it could move directly into buying prescription drugs. Or it could be a system that bypasses insurance companies altogether and contracts directly with doctors and hospitals for better deals.
Employers are up for trying almost anything to control rising health care costs, which have been consuming bigger portions of their budgets for years and burdening their employees.