Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, JPMorgan Team Up to Reduce Costs for Employees

Jon Howard
February 2, 2018

"I think particularly with Amazon in play, it reflects an nearly evangelical faith people have that they can disrupt established business problems in the way that they've done in many other industries", said Niall Brennan, president of the Health Care Cost Institute, while cautioning that the market may have overreacted.

The companies have a combined market valuation of $1.6 trillion, Bloomberg reported.

Published reports on Wednesday, including in the Financial Times, noted that there had been speculation for "months" that Amazon was planning to enter the healthcare industry, weighing on the share prices of health insurers, drugmakers, wholesalers and pharmacy benefits managers. A new independent company will initially focus on technology solutions that will provide United States employees and their families with simplified, high-quality and transparent healthcare at a reasonable cost, it said. "It's expensive, it doesn't really provide universal care and coverage, and there are a lot of quality issues". "They really could be a disrupter in terms of thinking about things differently". Insurance companies just as well as pharmacy companies see a negative effect as the news spread. Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, said in a statement that the effort could eventually be expanded to benefit all Americans. "Their goal was explained, but their plan was not". Amazon topped 541,000 employees as of the third quarter of 2017, according to the company's records; JP Morgan Chase & Co., the largest USA bank, has more than 240,000 employees; and Berkshire Hathaway, a holding company, has more than 367,000 employees. "Our group does not come to this problem with answer".

According to the CDC, approximately 28.2 million people under 65 years of age have no health insurance.

Amazon has always been mentioned by health care analysts and industry executives as a potential new player in the sector.

All that is known thus far is the joint venture is expected to try to leverage the size of the three companies to create a more transparent, affordable and easy to understand option for health insurance.

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Insuring all of those employees adds up for companies.

"There is an unmet consumer need in health care".

Healthcare isn't a cheap business, but these partnering companies are some of the richest in the world. Amazon's entry into the health market has been perceived as imminent.

The announcement Tuesday again highlighted investor worry about Amazon disrupting the health care industry.

The Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLV) was down 2% on Tuesday morning.

There still aren't any details available on how the new company will be structured and how it would work among the three giants.

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