A new health care behemoth? Not so fast.


Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios 

Let’s all take a big, collective chill pill on this vague new health care venture from Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase. Could it revolutionize health care? Sure. Will it? Let my colleague Bob Herman walk you through the many reasons to take a deep breath.

We don’t know what they’re even trying to do. The companies said they will come up with “technology solutions that will provide U.S. employees and their families with simplified, high-quality and transparent health care at a reasonable cost.” That’s as much detail as they offered.

  • At least initially, they’re only focused on their own employees, not the system as a whole.

Other big companies have tried something similar.

  • How will this new entity be different from the numerous other employer coalitions that try to band together for better deals?
  • Amazon and JPMorgan are already part of the National Business Group on Health. One of Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett’s companies, BNSF Railway, is part of the Health Transformation Alliance. Neither has done a whole lot.
  • Will this end up like another Kaiser Permanente, a health insurance system that uses its own closed system of hospitals and doctors? Kaiser Permanente, after all, started out as a workers’ comp program for shipyard and construction workers.

Go deeper: We’re barely scratching the surface of unanswered questions here. Bob has many more for you to ponder at Axios.com.

Side note: If Amazon is worried about the cost of health benefits, it could save itself some headaches by placing its coveted HQ2 in Toronto, CityLab notes. Canada has single-payer health care — which Buffett has endorsed.

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