Tuesday, January 05, 2021
Health project discontinued
Bezos, Buffet and Dimon fail with Haven
The giants Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan want to revolutionize the healthcare of their employees with joint forces. Three years later they have to discontinue their highly regarded project “Haven”. This leaves the US healthcare system expensive and inefficient indefinitely.
It should get easier and cheaper: Just three years after the start, the online giant Amazon, the holding company Berkshire Hathaway and the major bank JPMorgan are giving up their joint project to reduce health care costs for their US employees. The non-profit organization Haven announced on its website that the ambitious project will be discontinued at the end of February.
The failure of Haven is seen as the defeat for the three big US companies to face the problems of the health care system in the largest economy in the world. When asked, Haven did not provide any further information about the reasons. It simply said that companies “will continue to cooperate informally to develop programs that are tailored to the specific needs of their own employees”.
“We are proud of the progress the Haven team has made in researching a wide range of healthcare solutions,” said Jamie Dimon, managing director of JPMorgan Chase, in a statement to employees.
Many uninsured US citizens
The three US companies announced in January 2018 that they would create a non-profit health project with Haven in order to “offer US employees and their families simplified, high-quality and transparent health care at reasonable costs”. CEOs Jamie Dimon, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett wanted to break new ground in the healthcare industry by leveraging the companies’ combined data, technology, purchasing power and customer engagements to improve care while reducing costs. At the time it was said that at least a million workers could benefit from the project. “Rising healthcare costs are eating their way through the US economy like a tapeworm,” Buffett said at the time.
The US health care system is one of the most expensive and inefficient in the world and has always posed challenges to employees and employers: The US is the only industrial nation in the world that does not offer its citizens comprehensive health insurance. The cost of private insurance has been rising for years and accounted for 17.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. About half of US citizens are insured through their employer. The rest is dependent on government support or uninsured, according to the data from the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation.
Curbing healthcare costs has been a priority for several presidents. President Barack Obama introduced the “Obamacare” health care reform, which President-elect Joe Biden now wants to expand. “Obamacare” gave more than 20 million citizens access to health insurance. The current incumbent Donald Trump had tried unsuccessfully to overturn the reform entirely. Nevertheless, he managed to overturn parts of “Obamacare” and, among other things, to repeal the compulsory insurance.
The three companies joined forces in response to the Obamacare dismantling and the explosion in health insurance spending. With Haven, the project should initially apply to its own employees; however, those responsible considered possibly extending it to all citizens.