Investors trembled in January 2018 when three corporate giants, Berkshire Hathaway, Amazon, and JPMorgan Chase, announced a joint venture aimed at cutting worker health-care costs. No one knew how they planned to do that, but the news sent the S&P 500 Managed Health Care index down 4.4% in a day.
- Three years later, the trio has now closed the JV, known as Haven Healthcare. In a statement, Haven said it had “explored a wide range of health-care solutions, as well as piloted new ways to make primary care easier to access, insurance benefits simpler to understand and easier to use, and prescription drugs more affordable.” The managed-care index rose 2.2% the afternoon the news broke.
- Haven has said little. In November 2019, Bloomberg News reported that Haven was testing a plan with JPMorgan employees that had no deductibles and offered employees perks for achieving health goals.
- That seemed to suggest it was exploring alternatives to cost-sharing, a popular strategy to contain costs that some employers have begun to worry is counterproductive. But Haven never spoke publicly about the project.
- Instead, most of the news focused on arrivals and departures. In July 2018, Haven hired Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon and author of books on health care, as CEO. In May 2019, the COO left after nine months, and a year later Gawande exited as CEO.
- Haven’s demise might speak to the challenge of corporate collaborations; CNBC reported that the stakeholders put its ideas into practice separately. But Haven’s struggle also underlines a truth: Cutting health-care costs is tough.