Healthcare has been a growing problem for Americans across the political spectrum for decades. Conventional political wisdom currently says it will likely be the central focus in the 2020 presidential election, and the Democrats ran with it to some success in the recent midterm elections. While private healthcare may seem to be on its last legs, a corporate venture from Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon could save the healthcare free market.
Seeking to reform healthcare for all Americans and with DC in deadlock on most issues, private enterprise has a real opportunity to showcase a real-life example of the free market fixing a problem most of the developed world has left to government.
To be sure, this is no quick fix. Warren Buffett has been vocal in making it clear that there is no short-cut – the trio of billionaires merely want to see if it’s possible.
Fixing US healthcare has been a leading governmental concern for some time, as costs for patients have skyrocketed while wages have stagnated.
Buffett, Bezos, and Dimon are well aware that North America has some of the top medical practitioners in the world, and it does not make sense that outcomes should be average while costs are sky-high.
Naming a head physician to lead the Haven project, Buffett told Yahoo Finance today:
“The plan is to support a very, very, very good thinker on this subject, who’s a practicing physician, and who commands the respect of the medical community too. In effect, figure out some way so that we can deliver even better care, and have people feel better about their care, too. They have to perceive that they’re receiving better care, over time. And stop the march upward of costs, relative to the country’s output.”
The significant obstacles to this project are existing US infrastructure which will be resistant to any change that could hurt their bottom line. However, this is no small tech start-up leading the charge; this is a tax-exempt non-profit with Berkshire Hathaway, Amazon, and JPMorgan at the helm. That is some incredible financial clout.
The free market gets a bad rap these days, most significantly in the medical space. There is a relentless barrage of news focusing on how a drug costs X amount and now the manufacturer is charging 100 times more per dose. Due to this excessive greed, insurance costs for businesses are rising, and the market is showing us that employers, as well as employees, are feeling the strain.
Enter Haven. Warren Buffett can keep one eye on his pocketbook and do social good as well. Amazon has their eyes on disrupting every avenue of American life, and Jeff Bezos needs some good publicity. JPMorgan is also showing a shift to a more socially conscious outlook.
When the ultra-wealthy put their capital towards social good, the market can provide an efficient route to positive reform. Recent tax cuts to corporations by the current administration have demonstrated how large companies usually act selfishly, with most of that windfall not being invested in people or jobs.
With Haven, the trifecta of Buffett, Amazon, JPMorgan can hit a home run. First, they can restore faith in the ultra-wealthy to be more socially conscious. Next, they can improve US productivity, and finally, they can improve their bottom line. Bravo.
Now let’s see some progress – soon.
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