How 3 billionaires might solve America’s healthcare problem - Elizabeth Rosenthal, Kaiser Health News - Author, An American Sickness - Tuesday 2/13

How 3 billionaires might solve America’s healthcare problem
Elizabeth Rosenthal, Kaiser Health News
Author, An American Sickness
Tuesday 2/13


They are an interesting threesome: Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway and Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase.  These are not just billionaires, each among the richest people in their category – investor, retailer, banker – these are essentially self-made billionaires.  They’ve had mentors, partners, enablers, but none was born rich or won a lottery.

Instead, each man devised a secret sauce for picking targets for investment, for creating the ultimate online marketplace, and for growing an enormous all-service banking and financial services organization.  Their companies collectively employ a million people and they all share a problem: they are paying too much and getting too little from their healthcare system.

So now Bezos, Buffett and Dimon plan to join their personal and purchasable brain power to the buying power of their million employees to create a better way to healthcare.

How they plan to do it, they’ve pretty much made clear, they don’t know yet.  They’ve got a lot of hiring and a lot of thinking to do before even the first drafts will be done.  But from the day the Trio announced its aspiration to reform healthcare, stock prices of pharmacy-benefit managers, pharmacy chains, drug distributors and health care systems have been in free-fall.  Over 2 weeks, starting well before the whole market hit its 3 days of big sell-offs, CVS, Walgreen’s, Express Scripts, Cardinal Health, United Health, Anthem and Human all lost 10% or more of their value, and the best performer in the healthcare group, the insurer Aetna lost 9%.

As one analyst of health stocks told Marketwatch’s Emma Court, this “market reaction says more about the inefficiencies in the health care system than the initiative itself.”  The proprietors of the mess are terrified, if Bezos, Buffett and Dimon can’t clean things up, it’s only a matter of time before someone will.



Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal was for twenty-two years a reporter, correspondent, and senior writer at The New York Times before becoming the editor in chief of Kaiser Health News, an independent journalism newsroom focusing on health and health policy. She holds an MD from Harvard Medical School, trained in internal medicine, and has worked as an ER physician. She lives in New York City and Washington, DC. Her new book is An American Sickness: How Healthcare became Big Business and How You Can Take it Back.



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