Can the rising cost of healthcare be solved by corporate America? That’s the question that Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos and Jamie Dimon are hoping to answer.
These CEOs of Berkshire Hathaway, Amazon, and JP Morgan are forming a “mega-company” specifically to tackle healthcare issues. They have announced that the company will be headquartered in Boston, a thriving medical hub, and will be led by noted writer, doctor and researcher Atul Gawande.
The new company will attempt to build an industry model that works for patients, caregivers and providers. Each company will bring its business expertise to the venture:
- Amazon: technology and customer experience
- Berkshire Hathaway: insurance expertise
- JP Morgan: financial muscle, leveraging existing banking relationships with the largest healthcare companies and regulators
By integrating successful business tactics with groundbreaking scientific developments, the new venture hopes to create a framework to improve patient care, while lowering medical costs and yielding better patient results.
Same Road, Different Map
There is a lot to tackle to improve the availability of quality healthcare – including mental healthcare. In 2008, Congress passed the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, promising to make mental health and substance abuse treatment as accessible as care for any other physical condition.
However, enforcement of mental health parity laws simply hasn’t happened yet. Even though opioid overdoses have increased by 30 percent and there has been a spike in suicide rates, patients are still struggling to get access to – and coverage for – appropriate and successful treatment.
Yet, the need has never been more important. According to the Center for Workplace Mental Health, the economic burden for depression in the United States is $210.5 billion per year. In fact, the organization states: “For every dollar spent on MDD [major depressive disorder] direct costs in 2010, an additional $1.90 was spent on MDD-related indirect costs.”
New Ways of Approaching Healthcare
While quality mental healthcare continues to be a challenge, scientific advances are being made to help people suffering from mental illness. For example, genetic testing (like the GeneSight test) is being used to improve patient care. With this approach, patients get more personalized care, possibly take fewer meds, and experience better outcomes.
According to a study of 13,000 behavioral health patients published in Current Medical Research and Opinion, prescription expenses were more than $1,000 a year lower on average when healthcare providers were guided by GeneSight testing. In fact, one out of five patients were prescribed fewer medications after receiving the test.
The Future of Medicine
As the new mega-company reimagines medicine and insurance coverage, personalized medicine could be a game changer. Patients could get more targeted treatments that yield faster and better outcomes. And insurance companies could consider more readily cover tests proven to reduce the overall cost of mental healthcare.
Time will tell whether this mega-company will make a true difference in the larger world of healthcare. But it seems that combining their efforts to work on this issue has the potential for promising returns.