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Opinion
Leonid Bershidsky

How Amazon & Co. Could Fix Health Care

The first step would be to go completely outside the existing U.S. health care system.
Could this be the future of care for some U.S. employees?

Could this be the future of care for some U.S. employees?

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan haven't said much about what their new joint venture will do to "provide U.S. employees and their families with simplified, high quality and transparent healthcare at a reasonable cost." It's not hard to imagine, however, how the three companies could set up a large, closed system that could serve as a blueprint for the only disruptor with the ability to fix the entrenched, inefficient U.S. health care system -- the U.S. government.

The worst thing the joint venture could do is try to use its bargaining power to bring down costs within the existing system. It's not really big enough for that. The three partners have a combined 1 million employees; the health care industry is the biggest employer in the U.S., and even if you add in the family members of Amazon, Berkshire and JPMorgan employees, that won't be enough to go head to head with the medical juggernaut on doctors' and nurses' pay and the cost of pharmaceuticals. The partners need to start from scratch.