Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, JPMorgan starting healthcare company

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have agreed to work together to provide healthcare for their employees that is “free from profit-making incentives and constraints.”

The three companies are hoping to create a new healthcare company that they say will aim to improve employee satisfaction and reduce costs.

The companies provided few details of their plans in a release, and said they were still in the early stages of developing their initiative. But they said healthcare is “among the greatest issues facing society today,” and said they will be looking at ways that technology can give employees a simple way to obtain high-quality healthcare, at a reasonable cost.

The top companies’ executives indicated in their statements that they hoped what they come up with would serve as a model for other entities.

“The ballooning costs of healthcare act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy,” Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “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.”

Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, who also owns the Washington Post, said the executives were entering into the plan “open-eyed about the degree of difficulty” in addressing the healthcare system.

“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 said. “Success is going to require talented experts, a beginner’s mind, and a long-term orientation.”

The announcement came amid growing rumors that Amazon’s executives are looking at ways to disrupt the healthcare industry. Shares of pharmacy benefits managers CVS and ExpressScripts, as well as insurance giants UnitedHealth and Aetna, fell following the news.

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, are working together to develop the new company. They haven’t yet announced who will run the program for the long term or where it will be headquartered.

source:  www.washingtonexaminer.com by Kimberly Leonard

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