Haven Healthcare Break-Up: “I rest my case”

2021.01.04 Bezos Buffet Dimon

Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, Jamie Dimon

Haven Healthcare’s break-up vindicates the message of this blog:  Only the full faith and clout of the federal government can overcome structural cost pressures and reform the U.S. healthcare system.

Haven Healthcare was formed in 2018 by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, entrepreneurial financier Warren Buffet, and banker Jamie Dimon with the goal of providing high-quality healthcare, streamlining administrative overhead, and leveraging cost savings. They nailed the diagnosis for what aids the healthcare system, and they understood that their cure might help both their employees and their corporate bottom lines. They hired a brilliant visionary leader, Atul Gawande M.D., admired by this blog, to guide the enterprise.

Fixing U.S. Healthcare blog, however, expressed skepticism even their vision, brilliance, market savvy, and deep pockets were a match for the “healthcare tapeworm,” as Buffet himself called it.

Now, Haven has informed its employees that it will be shutting down operations by the end of February, according to CNBC.com and Haven’s own press release.

Bravo to Bezos, Buffet, Dimon and Gawande for trying.  And the truth is, it will take everyone – including innovators like them – to tackle healthcare reform.

This blog has identified the root cause of the health system’s relentlessly rising cost as “an interlocking system of payment schemes, regulations, laws, Supreme Court decisions, financing arrangements, and monopolies that have become impenetrable.”  Prices twice those in other advanced countries are a telltale symptom. 

An earlier post, featuring Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz, underscored the need for broad-based “people power,” operating through the federal government, as likely the only force strong enough to overcome entrenched healthcare structures. This sentiment is echoed in a new essay by Zephyr Teachout in Foreign Affairs, “Monopoly versus democracy – How to end a Gilded Age.” She argues for a coalition between progressives (working through government) and populists (harnessing “people power”) using antitrust tools to tackle not just healthcare but other rich and powerful forces in 21st century America.

We are beyond simply using cost-benefit analysis, as originally proposed by this blog.  Once again we conclude, with Stiglitz and Teachout, that only the full faith and clout of the federal government can subdue the healthcare tapeworm in the 21st century.

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Image Credits

Title:  Jeff Bezos

By: Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz, U.S. Department of Defense

URL: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/33/Jeff_Bezos_2016.jpg

Title:  Warren Buffet

By:  USA International Trade Administration

URL:  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Warren_Buffett_at_the_2015_SelectUSA_Investment_Summit.jpg

Title:  Jamie Dimon

By:  World Economic Forum

URL:  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Global_Financial_Context_James_Dimon_(cropped).jpg

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