In the wake of a political battle that characterized 2017, it appears solutions for potentially improved and more affordable health care may be on the horizon.
While federal lawmakers bicker over the Affordable Care Act, three corporations are teaming up to resolve the issue for their employees. If the companies are successful in creating an effective health care system, it’s possible their idea could benefit all Americans.
Online retailer Amazon, holding company Berkshire Hathaway and bank JPMorgan Chase issued a press release Jan. 30 announcing plans to start an independent health care company. The statement provided little detail about the joint venture except that “the initial focus of the new company will be on technology solutions that will provide U.S. employees and their families with simplified, high-quality and transparent health care at a reasonable cost.” The hope is that it will balance rising health care costs with enhanced patient satisfaction and outcomes. The release also mentioned a desire to transition away from a profit-based health care system.
After the announcement of the initiative, stock prices of major health insurance companies dropped, and rightfully so. If it expands in the future, the new partnership may create much-needed competition in an arena fraught with overpricing, complicated procedures and an abundance of paperwork. Competition is always a good thing. It prevents medical costs from being controlled by just a handful of insurance providers, and in an important area like one’s health, everyone should have coverage options that will ensure
receiving the highest quality of care possible.
“The ballooning costs of [health care] act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy,” said Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffet.
The joint venture also creates opportunities for other employers to join forces with the giants, or attempt to come up with their own answers to provide better health care options for their workers.
But this isn’t the first time a corporation has become involved in health care. In December, CVS Health bought health insurance giant Aetna for $69 billion with a similar goal — to remake the consumer health care experience and build a health care platform around individuals.
In an era where many Americans fear that one accident or illness will drastically alter their financial future — because they can’t afford health insurance to assist with potentially high medical expenses — the idea that legitimate solutions are being sought is refreshing. What’s even more uplifting is that these companies understand the importance of their employees being able to afford health insurance and, in theory, politics will be held out of the discussion.
Considering all three corporations have enjoyed immense successes in their respective fields, the potential for innovative ideas from the three giants is exciting.
We look forward to seeing if the private sector can produce what elected officials were stuck in the mud trying to accomplish all of 2017.