Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase announced on Jan. 30 that they would form an independent healthcare company to serve their employees in the U.S.
The three companies provided few details about the new entity, other than saying it would initially focus on technology to provide simplified, high-quality healthcare for their employees and their families, and at a reasonable cost. They said the initiative, which is in the early planning stages, would be a long-term effort “free from profit-making incentives and constraints.”
The partnership brings together three of the country’s most influential companies to help improve a healthcare system that other companies have tried and failed to change: Amazon, the largest online retailer in the world; Berkshire Hathaway, the holding company led by the billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett; and JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the United States by assets.
“The healthcare system is complex, and we enter into this challenge open-eyed about the degree of difficulty,” Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive, said in a statement. “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.”
In the statement, Mr. Buffett added: “The ballooning costs of healthcare act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy.”
“Our group does not come to this problem with answers,” he said. “But we also do not accept it as inevitable. Rather, we share the belief that putting our collective resources behind the country’s best talent can, in time, check the rise in health costs while concurrently enhancing patient satisfaction and outcomes.”
The announcement again highlighted investor worry about Amazon disrupting the healthcare industry. Shares of UnitedHealth were down 5% in premarket trading, while Anthem’s were down 3.5%, erasing many of the gains such companies have made over the past 12 months.