Reprinted from The Washington Post by Guian McKeeon February 8, 2018.
Last week, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase announced they would form an independent health-care company to serve their combined 1.2 million employees. Most commentators focused on the futuristic aspects of the project: “Technology solutions” that might, someday, help control the spiraling health-care costs Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and chief executive Warren Buffett described as “a hungry tapeworm on the American economy.”
Techno-utopian visions of algorithm-driven health-care apps and artificial medical intelligence robots aside, the most important components of the still-theoretical project are actually deeply rooted in the history of health care, both in the United States and around the world. This history illustrates the potential promise of the new initiative: It might provide cheaper, better care for all Americans while facing fewer political hurdles and requiring fewer jarring changes to the system.
Notably light on details, the announcement offered two specific components beyond its emphasis on technology. (Amazon chief executive Jeffrey Bezos also owns The Washington Post.) First, the new company would be “free from profit-making incentives and constraints.” Second, the overall goal would be “improving employee satisfaction and reducing costs.” …