Coming soon: Prime employee benefits

Allie Broockerd

Healthcare has been a tense topic among the American people since it was first established in the 1900s.

Today, 44 million Americans are uninsured and 38 million have insurance that they feel is inadequate according to PBS. Unpaid medical bills are the No. 1 cause of bankruptcy in America and employers that want to provide adequate insurance their employees who struggle to afford it. A few big players in business want to change this.

Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway, Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase rattled the stock market Feb. 6 when they announced that they were creating an independent healthcare company for their employees.

While these companies stated that their healthcare organization would not be for profit, it is unclear whether they were implicating that the company was non-profit, or if they simply meant that the company’s purpose was to provide health insurance without turning a profit. A non-profit status would mean that the organization would not have to pay taxes on their net income, so the money saved could be reinvested to furtherthe growth of the program.

Healthcare is a huge burden on the American economy. Buffett stated that U.S. healthcare costs are nearly twice that of other similarly developed countries.

The three companies hope to integrate technology into the healthcare system, “to provide high quality and transparent care.”

Amazon has the technology aspect of this initiative covered as it has unveiled multiple products over the past few years that integrate technology into everyday life. These include Amazon Echo, Fire Stick, smart TV and even a thermostat, all of which aim to add innovative shortcuts to everyday life.

The technology will, in this case, be aimed at creating more convenient ways to access primary care. This could mean not having to physically visit a physician, but using online tools to interact with them instead.

Although technology will help create affordable solutions to the high cost of healthcare, it is not the only element that will create change. Analysts agree that the current system has been monopolized by a few large providers for decades; their incentives being profit margins, not adequate healthcare.

If these three companies can pull off the initiative they are proposing, they have the power to restructure the healthcare market and possibly pave the way for other companies to do the same.

The effort is still in its planning stages, although the companies are hopeful that they can create change.

“The healthcare system is complex, and we enter into this challenge open-eyed about the degree of difficulty,” said Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO.

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