Is our wait finally over? Well, with yesterday's announcement from Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase that they are collaborating to do something about health care, the consumer-driven initiatives, in addition to all of the innovation happening on the fringes of the industry, whether the current players like it or not - has me hopeful that the status quo is truly no longer an option.
Bezos, Buffett & Dimon have not given details, but all of the employers, who provide 178 million Americans, 55% of the U.S. population, access to health care via their employer plans, spending over $672 billion of the $3.6 trillion U.S. health care bill, changing horses in the middle of the stream could make a huge impact.
Could their partnership provide the leadership and national cohesion needed for all employers to make positive change? Could be.
To be fair, a lot of employers have been trying to make change for a lot of years, and have made a difference for their own organization's cost savings, and every little bit helps, but nothing has yet made a course-changing, national impact on heath care costs for all of us, which is what needs to happen.
It's like trying to crack a nut. The nut has to be turned in the nutcracker several times, and receive pressure on all sides before it finally cracks wide open. Consumer-driven initiatives, like high-deductible health plans, which force consumers to shop and pay the kind of attention they do with other purchases, and force all of the current health care players to step out of behind insurance and deal directly with consumers to get paid, is applying pressure on one side. Innovation and the entry of entrepreneurs with refreshing new perspectives, putting more and more of health care control in the hands of consumers, is applying pressure on another side. Now, with this new pressure from three of the largest employers in the country - yes, I am hopeful!
Perhaps we can stop playing the political shell game - or, at least ignore it - to get something actually accomplished around the real issue. I say shell game because focusing on health insurance is also continuing to hide behind insurance and is a diversion. Insurance has never been the crux of the problem - not to deny a housecleaning is certainly in order in health insurance just as it is for the rest of the health care industry - no one ought to be practicing medicine without a license.
Costs. Are. The. Problem.
Rylan Klaseen & Associates
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