Thursday, August 18, 2022

Health care improvement plan in works?

What do Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos and Jamie Dimon have in common, other that being brilliant, worth billions and highly successful in each of their respective professional roles? As this issue of the Oklahoma Banker goes to press, it has been announced that the companies these three men represent (Berkshire-Hathaway, Amazon and JPMorgan Chase respectively) are joining together to start a new health care company.

“We don’t have many details about the plan,” OBA President and CEO Roger Beverage said. “We don’t know how the company will be formed, for example, nor do we know how it will work. What these companies told us in a joint news release is that whatever form the new entity takes it will be organized in such a manner that it will be “free from profit-making incentives.”

Here’s a link to the news release: http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/news/jan3018.pdf.

Beverage also said the new entity will be focused on employer-based health benefits.

“The early consensus is this new venture by these three business giants will have a profound impact on medical costs for every American, including OBA-member banks,” Beverage said. “Axios News tells us the following:

The approach will focus on using technology to both simplify the health-care process for your bank, your employees and their families; and

The goal is to create a more transparent health care system and deliver utilization of that system at a reasonable cost.”

The three companies acknowledged the challenge to find a way to reduce “the ballooning costs of health care (that) act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy.” They went on to make it clear that they do not yet have answers or solutions on the table for discussion.

“ … Our group does not come to this problem with answers. But we also do not accept it as inevitable,” said Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO, Warren Buffett. “Rather, we share the belief that putting our collective resources behind the country’s best talent can, in time, check the rise in health costs while concurrently enhancing patient satisfaction and outcomes.”

The goal of bringing down the costs of health care may dovetail with the president’s goal of reducing the cost of prescription drugs. Either way, if implemented properly, it seems as if all employers and their employees stand to benefit from this idea.

“The people I work with are willing to entertain a variety of ideas if it means it will lead to lower prices for health care,” Beverage said. “But these three giants represent only a small fraction of the nation’s health care market, and without more leverage (their task) may be harder than they think.”