Jamie Dimon, President and CEO of JPMorgan Chase SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Corporate America’s Health-Care Gambit

With American health-care costs ballooning, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase have pledged to build a company that will help their US employees find care "at a reasonable cost." If their initiative succeeds, it could reshape health-care delivery worldwide.

LUND, SWEDEN – In late January, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase announced plans to create a company that would help their employees in the United States obtain heath care “at a reasonable cost.” While details remain sparse, the potential impact is already known: with a combined global workforce of more than one million people, the partnership could overhaul how health care is organized and delivered in the US and beyond.

By creating a joint venture “free from profit-making incentives and constraints,” the initiative aims to do something remarkable: put patients first. According to Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, the goal is to rein in ballooning health-care costs – a “hungry tapeworm on the American economy,” as he put it – while enhancing patient satisfaction and outcomes.

Today, most of the US health-care industry is profit-driven, and this is reflected in nearly every decision, from which drugs get developed to who gets insured. But in a country that spends roughly 18% of its GDP on health care, yet lags far beyond other rich countries in health outcomes, something is clearly amiss. It is into this dysfunctional environment that the three corporate giants are intervening.