By: Dexter Braff

Almost Haven, Messed Dominion

On January 30th, 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported the formation of what would later be called Haven under the headline,

Triple Threat: Amazon, Berkshire, JPMorgan Rattle Health-Care Firms

“The companies said the venture would be “free from profit-making incentives and constraints” and would develop technological solutions to provide simplified, high quality health care for their hundreds of thousands of U.S. workers, but they offered few other details [emphasis – and foreshadowing – added]”.[1]

Immediately, the market was abuzz with the prospect of this vaunted triumvirate reimagining health care delivery.

CNBC reported that the announcement “sent shock waves throughout the world of medicine” as “shares of health care companies tumbled on fears about how the combined might of leaders in technology and finance could wring costs out of the system”.[2]

Initially the focus would be on their employees.  And then, who knows? World domination?  To infinity and beyond!

Less than three years later, the company announced that it was disbanding.

Amazingly, in a venture in which one of the central tenets was to coordinate care to reduce costs, CNBC reported that,

“One key issue facing Haven was that each of the three founding companies executed their own projects separately with their own employees [emphasis – and astonishment – added] obviating the need for the joint venture to begin with, according to the people, who declined to be identified speaking about the matter”.[2]

The article goes on to say that “the move to shutter Haven may [emphasis – and sarcasm – added] be a sign of how difficult it is to radically improve American health care, a complicated and entrenched system of doctors, insurers, drugmakers and middlemen that costs the country $3.5 trillion every year”.[2]

While we understand the reluctance to bet against Bezos, Buffet, and Dimon, the failure of Haven was perhaps as predictable as the certainty that at the end of each Friday the 13th sequel, Jason wasn’t really dead.

Someone once famously said, “nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.”

Well…now we know.

__________________________

[1] Wall Street Journal; “Triple Threat: Amazon, Berkshire, JPMorgan Rattle Health-Care Firms”; January 30, 2018

[2] CNBC; “Haven, the Amazon-Berkshire-JPMorgan venture to disrupt health care, is disbanding after 3 years”; January 4, 2021

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