Buffett, Bezos, and Dimon Take on Healthcare
The two most dreadful, petrifying words in the English language, the two words nobody wants to hear together: Health Insurance. EEK! Run for the hills!
Premiums, deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, benefit periods, creditable coverage, FSA, HSA, PPO – terminology of the worst kind.
- Nobody wants to talk about health insurance.
- Nobody likes their health insurance plan.
Health insurance has been a central issue in American politics for decades now. A Gallup poll in 2015 reported that the “availability and affordability of healthcare” was deemed “of great concern” by 54% of Americans. In fact, it was the 6th “most worried about issue” at the time.
Does your health insurance really matter that much? Of course; it’s your well-being. We already know you probably won’t go to your biannual dental checkup (I’m not the only one, right…?), but without confidence in your health insurance plan, you may skip out on visiting the dentist when you actually need to.
Congratulations, now you need a root canal!
Step 1. Accept that you have a problem.
Let’s just put the undeniable truth out there: the Healthcare industry in the U.S. is broken.
According to the OECD in 2016, Americans spend by far most on healthcare per year at $9,892. This is just under 25% more than the next highest-spending country, Switzerland at $7,919.
And although the U.S. is known for its world-renowned facilities, research labs, and specialists, for the average American the high cost of care does not always translate to high-quality care.
According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. has a life expectancy of 78.5 years, lower than most other economically developed countries such as France (82.9), Canada (82.8), and Spain (83.1).
It only takes a quick Google search to find that the quality in the American Healthcare system is lagging behind its European counterparts. This article by Health System Tracker shows how the U.S. measures up against other developed countries on certain health metrics, the results are eye-opening.
Inflated medical costs are caused by inflated medicine prices and inflated medical salaries, which have to be inflated because of the expensive, long education that medical professionals have to go through. Inflation, inflation, inflation – it’s been the story of the medical industry in this country for decades. What happens to a balloon that’s over-inflated? It pops.
Don’t wait: Deflate
In January, three of the brightest minds in business – Jeff Bezos (CEO Amazon), Warren Buffett (CEO Berkshire Hathaway), and Jamie Dimon (CEO JP Morgan Chase & Co.) – announced that they would be partnering to search for healthcare solutions for their combined 1.2 million U.S. employees.
These companies may have enough combined weight behind them to greatly lower the cost of their employees’ medical needs by cutting out the “middleman” of a health insurance company.
As Warren Buffett puts it himself, “the ballooning costs of healthcare act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy. Our group does not come to this problem with answers. 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.”
If this coalition creates a successful, cost-cutting Healthcare system that consumers are happier with, there could very well be a domino effect of companies following suit, leading to a much-needed shake-up in the Healthcare industry.
Whether or not this deviant trio will help is unknown; however, if they did it wouldn’t be the first time that a group of CEOs shook things up, *cue Rocky theme song.*
Wouldn’t be the first time
CEOs in the twenty-first century are no longer just business magnates who manage their stockholders’ gripes. CEOs, particularly in the tech field, are becoming visionary leaders of social and economic change.
Take Bill Gates for example. Since the 1990s his foundation has been spending billions of dollars to help save lives by funding preventative medicine in Africa. In 2006 Warren Buffett joined Bill Gates in the movement by donating some 30 billion dollars to help. The result? Approximately 122 million lives saved, and the medical infrastructure poised to help millions many more for generations to come.
Speaking of CEOs, in the most recent development Dr. Atul Gawande has been named the CEO of the new Healthcare initiative scheduled to launch in Boston in July.
With a background as a surgeon at Harvard and writer for The New Yorker, Dr. Gawande brings exactly what the big Healthcare companies are most afraid of: a care-based perspective.
Appointing Dr. Gawande as CEO reinforces the unorthodox approach that this initiative is taking. Is Health Care a Right? is a narrative article he wrote in 2017 that highlights many of the ongoing problems with the current healthcare system.
Hindsight is 20/20.
Could this initiative lead to something huge in Healthcare? These CEOs are now playing with the big dogs; Health Insurance and Pharmaceutical companies are making a TON of money on the current system, and there will no doubt be a lot of push-back to this initiative.
Will your deductible decrease, copays disappear, premiums come down, and will dental finally be included in your plan? Only time will tell.