A healthcare company launched with great fanfare by three of the world’s most respected companies and their CEOs – Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and JPMorgan Chase – is retiring a few years after its founding.
Haven Health, originally sparked by an idea from JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, and with the support of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Berkshire’s Warren Buffett, sought to lower healthcare costs for hundreds of thousands of workers at all three companies through the pooling of resources and technology. Haven’s stated goal at its 2018 launch was to provide transparent healthcare for company employees at lower costs.
The joint venture, which was announced with enough fanfare to bring down the shares of major insurers, will cease operations in February without achieving those goals.
“Haven’s team made good progress in exploring a wide range of healthcare solutions, as well as piloting new ways to make primary care easier to access, insurance benefits more easy to understand and use and the most affordable prescription drugs, “said a spokeswoman. . The three companies will be able to use what they learned and collaborate informally in the future, he said.
Harvard University writer, surgeon and professor Atul Gawande was named Haven’s CEO but resigned in May, saying he would become CEO and wanted to focus on the pandemic. Dr. Gawande, who took over as director in July 2018, wanted to step away from the day-to-day management of Haven, people familiar with the matter said.
Turnover in the joint venture was a problem almost from the start, according to people familiar with the matter. In addition to Dr. Gawande, Haven saw an exodus of other executives, including Chief Technology Officer Serkan Kutan and Chief Operating Officer Jack Stoddard.
Haven sought to develop new ways to improve access to primary care, simplify insurance coverage and make prescription drugs more affordable, the company said. But the company showed few signs of impact in the three years after its announcement. Haven started pilot projects that focused on health benefits approaches, including one for approximately 30,000 JPMorgan employees in Ohio and Arizona, who were offered fixed-cost options for health care services. The company spent much of its time building data systems on the employees of the three partner companies, people familiar with the matter said.
Limited public achievements contrast with Haven’s ambitions, which attracted the attention of the leaders of several of America’s most recognized and respected companies. Berkshire’s Buffett, JPMorgan’s Dimon and Amazon’s Bezos expressed hope the effort would help lower costs for their workers and improve care.
Combined, the three companies have more than 1.5 million employees, and Amazon alone accounts for about 1.1 million. The tech giant has more than 800,000 workers in the US and hired 400,000 in 2020 alone.
Even as Haven sought to improve healthcare offerings for all three companies, Amazon teams worked separately to significantly expand the company’s programs for its workers, particularly in the Seattle area. In 2019, it launched a virtual primary care clinic for employees called Amazon Care. The clinic came with an option for nurses to visit employees in their homes.
Known for its ‘fail fast’ culture, Amazon rewards quick innovation and often separate teams work on similar projects at the same time. It often functions as a network of small teams under one umbrella with central planning, according to current and former Amazon employees.
The tech giant has long had its own healthcare ambitions. In November, it launched an online pharmacy. The pharmacy will ship insulin, asthma inhalers, and other common brand or generic medications. It will not sell opioids or other drugs that are considered higher risk of theft, and customers will need prescriptions for their drugs. Amazon said it would accept most insurance and offer discounts to Prime customers who do not have insurance. An Amazon spokeswoman said at the time that “the same equipment, technology and infrastructure that underpins Amazon Pharmacy’s PillPack have expanded to serve a broader range of customers, both in terms of needs and numbers.”
Amazon introduced its pharmacy approximately two years after purchasing the PillPack Inc. online pharmacy. Previously, Amazon customers had been directed to a separate site targeting patients with complex chronic medical conditions.
Amazon spent billions of dollars in 2020 to set up test sites in its warehouses to screen workers for Covid-19. The company said late last year that it would conduct roughly 50,000 daily tests by November. Amazon has also lobbied the federal government to give its front-line employees priority access to coronavirus vaccines as vaccines begin to be applied.