Amazon, others to target health care costs

Bezos, Buffett and Dimon will combine their one million U.S. employees in the program

Reuters

Jess Bezos’s Amazon.com, Berkshire Hathway and JPMorgan Chase announced they would form a health care company aimed at lowering the cost of care for their U.S. employees and reducing costs to the companies.
Reuters Jess Bezos’s Amazon.com, Berkshire Hathway and JPMorgan Chase announced they would form a health care company aimed at lowering the cost of care for their U.S. employees and reducing costs to the companies.

It’s no secret Jeff Bezos has been looking to crack health care. But no one expected him to pull in Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon, too.

News Tuesday that Bezos’s Amazon.com, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and JPMorgan Chase, led by Dimon, plan to join forces to change how health care is provided to their combined one million U.S. employees sent shock waves through the health care industry.

The plan, while in early stages and focused solely on the three giants’ staff for now, seems almost certain to set its sights on disrupting the broader industry.

It’s the first big move by Amazon in the sector after months of speculation that the internet behemoth might make an entry. The Amazon-Berkshire-JPMorgan collaboration likely will pressure profits for middlemen in the health care supply chain.

Details were scant in a short joint statement on Tuesday. The three companies said they plan to set up a new independent company “that is free from profit-making incentives and constraints.”

The group announced the news in the very early stages because it plans to hire a CEO and start partnering with other organizations, according to a person familiar with the matter. The effort would be focused internally first, and the companies would bring their data and bargaining power to bear on lowering health care costs, the person said.

Potential ways to bring down costs include providing more transparency over the prices for doctor visits and lab tests, as well as by enabling direct purchasing of some medical items, the person said.

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