Amazon. Berkshire Hathaway. Walmart. Why are some of the largest and most influential companies in America interested in getting into the healthcare business? Money, of course.
Here’s a Snapshot of US Healthcare in 2018:
Nearly 20% of the federal budget is spent on healthcare
The Affordable Care Act is not really affordable
Healthcare costs are rising exponentially
Washington, DC is controlled by lobbyists
As you can see, it’s not a good situation. Huge corporations are getting tired of directing massive amounts of their revenue towards ever-increasing healthcare costs as insurance firms and pharmaceutical companies get even richer. Naturally, Amazon, Walmart, and the like think that they can create a cheaper and better system. And based on their past success, they just might be right.
Cynics will say these companies are simply in it to get even wealthier. True, they are in it to make money. But more importantly, they’re really looking to save money. There is so much inefficiency and waste in the current healthcare system that, with their demonstrated business expertise, a successful tech company and the world’s biggest retailer should easily be able to make a profit and still benefit the consumer.
Following in their footsteps, CVS and Aetna are now in the process of merging. As mentioned before, these legacy companies have serious issues to overcome, like existing contracts and intractable bureaucracy. The good news for CVS is that they already have Minute Clinics in many stores. My advice would be: after the merger, make a deal with Amazon. Combining CVS’ pharmacies and Aetna’s subscriber base with Amazon’s infrastructure could create a truly modern and efficient healthcare provider.
While single-payer healthcare may be the preferred option, the country will be well served if we end up with two highly competitive choices. America has the best healthcare in the world, what we need now is scalability: the capacity to provide it to everyone at a reasonable cost. Amazon and Walmart could easily cover the entire US while modernizing and streamlining our unwieldy system. Although it may look hopeless at times, I think we are approaching critical mass and a new healthcare model may be right around the corner.