Three of corporate America's heaviest hitters turned heads this week after joining forces on healthcare – but what exactly they plan to do is anyone's guess.
Amazon, Warren Buffett, and JPMorgan Chase announced Tuesday that they plan to create a company to provide their employees with high-quality and affordable care.
Benefits experts tell The Associated Press that this new company could create a virtual marketplace that makes shopping for healthcare as easy as buying a shirt on Amazon ... or it could move directly into buying prescription drugs ... or it could be a system that bypasses insurance companies altogether and contracts directly with doctors and hospitals for better deals.
All these things would be part of an effort by employers in general to control rising healthcare costs. "The sky's the limit on where they could possibly go with this," remarks Brian Marcotte of National Business Group on Health in an interview with AP.
In an interview with OneNewsNow, Thomas Miller at the American Enterprise Institute points out there's nothing new under the sun – and these corporate giants, he says, are looking to achieve a miracle without a particular plan or details having been released.
"We should always encourage new entrants to do things differently that haven't worked out as well before," Miller begins. "[But] there are some reasons for doubts about this [because] although these are wonderful companies that have done many amazing things, their core competence and expertise is not necessarily in either healthcare delivery or managing healthcare costs per se."
Miller adds there are a lot of barriers, as this is a vastly overregulated sector, one that is also rather resistant to new competitive pressure or disruptive innovation.
The three businesses, with an estimated one million employees in the U.S. combined, say the new venture will be "free from profit-making incentives and constraints."