Haven Health, originally sparked by an idea from JPMorgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon and supported by Amazon’s
sought to reduce health-care costs for hundreds of thousands of workers at the three companies by pooling resources and technology. Haven’s stated aim at its 2018 launch was to provide transparent health care for employees of the companies at lower costs.
The joint venture, which was announced with enough fanfare to push down the shares of major insurers, will cease operations in February without having achieved those aims.
“The Haven team made good progress exploring a wide range of health-care solutions, as well as piloting new ways to make primary care easier to access, insurance benefits simpler to understand and easier to use and prescription drugs more affordable,” a spokeswoman said. The three companies will be able to use what they learned and collaborate informally in the future, she said.
Writer, surgeon and Harvard University professor
was named Haven’s chief executive, but he stepped down in May, saying he would become executive chairman and wanted to focus on the pandemic. Dr. Gawande, who took the head role in July 2018, wanted to move away from day-to-day management of Haven, people familiar with the matter said.
Turnover at the joint venture was a problem almost from its outset, according to people familiar with the matter. Besides Dr. Gawande, Haven saw an exodus of other executives, including technology chief
and operating chief
Haven sought to develop new ways to improve access to primary care, simplify insurance coverage and make prescription drugs more affordable, the company said. But the company showed few signs of impact in the three years after its announcement. Haven started pilot projects that focused on health-benefits approaches, including one for about 30,000 JPMorgan employees in Ohio and Arizona who were given options of flat costs for health-care services. The company spent much of its early time building data systems about employees across the three partner companies, people familiar with the matter said.
The limited public achievements stand in contrast to Haven’s ambitions, which attracted the attention of leaders of several of America’s most recognized and respected companies. Berkshire’s Mr. Buffett, JPMorgan’s Mr. Dimon and Amazon’s Mr. Bezos all expressed hope that the effort would help reduce costs for their workers and improve care.
Combined, the three companies have more than 1.5 million employees, with Amazon accounting for about 1.1 million on its own. The tech giant has more than 800,000 workers in the U.S. and hired 400,000 in 2020 alone.
Even as Haven sought to improve health-care offerings for the three companies, Amazon teams worked separately to significantly expand the company’s programs for its workers, particularly in the Seattle area. In 2019, it launched a virtual primary care clinic for employees there dubbed Amazon Care. The clinic came with an option for nurses to visit employees in their homes.
Known for its “fail fast” culture, Amazon prizes quick innovation and separate teams often work on similar projects at the same time. It often operates as a network of small teams under one umbrella rather than with centralized planning, according to current and former Amazon employees.
The tech giant has long had its own health-care ambitions. In November, it launched an online pharmacy. The pharmacy will ship insulin, asthma inhalers and other common generic or branded medications. It won’t sell opioids or other drugs deemed at higher risk of theft, and customers will need prescriptions for their medications. Amazon said it would accept most insurance and offer discounts to Prime customers who are uninsured. An Amazon spokeswoman said at the time that “the same teams, technology, and infrastructure that support PillPack by Amazon Pharmacy have expanded to serve a wider range of customers, both in terms of needs and numbers.”
Amazon introduced its pharmacy about two years after buying online pharmacy PillPack Inc. Previously, Amazon customers had been directed to a separate site geared toward patients with complex, chronic medical conditions.
Amazon spent billions of dollars in 2020 to set up testing sites at its warehouses to screen workers for Covid-19. The company said late last year that it would be conducting roughly 50,000 tests daily by November. Amazon has also lobbied the federal government to give its front-line employees priority access to coronavirus vaccines as the shots begin to roll out.
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