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Haven is folding, but there’s still an opportunity to change health care

Erika Beras Jan 5, 2021
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A health care worker helps organize drive-through COVID-19 testing in Florida. The industry has dealt with new pressures in the past year. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Haven is folding, but there’s still an opportunity to change health care

Erika Beras Jan 5, 2021
Heard on:
A health care worker helps organize drive-through COVID-19 testing in Florida. The industry has dealt with new pressures in the past year. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan announced that the health care venture they founded, Haven, is shutting down. 

Back in 2018, when Haven started, there was a lot of buzz and the word “disrupt” was thrown around. Its early promises were big: Improve access to doctors, reduce costs and simplify health care for the employees of Amazon, Berkshire and JPMorgan. 

But health care has a lot of moving parts. 

“We have an incredibly fragmented, difficult-to-manage-and-change health care system,” said Aaron Carroll, a health services researcher at Indiana University. “Any time you try to change one small part of it, you realize how little control you have over everything else.”

In Haven’s case, there were varying interests, said Avalere Health consultant Dan Mendelson.

“That kind of joint venture is really difficult, if not impossible, to work from the very beginning,” he said.

Plus, Haven was working within the existing health care infrastructure, said Julian Reif, a finance professor at the University of Illinois.

“Despite being affiliated with three large companies, they still don’t have nearly enough leverage to really counteract the monopoly power of the health care systems that we have in a lot of different health care markets,” Reif said.

But Haven was on to something: There’s a need to overhaul health care, said University of Chicago health economist Katherine Baicker. During the pandemic, some parts of the system have been overwhelmed, while others struggled to stay afloat. 

“That’s a very strange juxtaposition,” Baicker said. “And it highlights the lack of coordination in the health care system.”

A statement on Haven’s website said it explored a wide range of health care solutions and that the parent companies will continue to collaborate informally.  

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