It all started with a Big Bang of optimism.
In 2018, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase — a trio of the nation’s best-run companies, known for their innovation and resilience — announced the creation of Haven, a joint effort to take on and tame the expense and complexity of American health care.
As Fortune Magazine would chronicle, it seemed like the perfect combination to finally crack the health care challenge:
“Their CEOs were all visionaries in their industries,” according to the Forbes article. “Berkshire and JPMorgan brought finance chops. Amazon had the proven playbook — a consumer-first ethos, big data, bold and patient investment — for audacious disruption. Between them, they had deep pockets, ample resources and the purchasing power that came with their combined 1.2 million employees.”
By the end of 2020, the effort had pretty much fizzled. Haven was quietly shut down in 2021 and not one of the three companies involved has had much to say, except they “learned a lot” or “the tapeworm won.” (The tape- worm was Warren Buffet’s description of health care drag on businesses.) The true reasons the effort was abandoned remain murky. Certainly, many CEOs and business owners — particularly small businesses — are disappointed the result wasn’t better.
Health care is a huge nut, costing nearly $4 trillion annually in the US. The current system of employer-sponsored health care includes nearly 160 million Americans and faces increases of 5 to 10 percent each year — money that does not go into equipment, raises, college funds or community projects. (Some compelling cost data is featured in On the Radar this month.)
Perhaps what was needed was so not so much of a Big Bang. Maybe a series of small pops is what we need instead.
Get our CEO Curt Kubiak in a conversation about health care and you’ll notice his focus on the unique solutions that have been developed at the individual company level by employers, employees, physicians and others willing to take a chance and try something different.
More than likely, he’ll give you the name of someone you should call so you can talk with your peer about it and see if what they did will work for your company, too.
These are the stories we try to feature in each issue of NOVO Live – The Magazine in the hopes they will inspire you to take action with your company. We think seeing what your peers have done paints the picture that you could do it, too. This issue, we take a look at how the Ashwaubenon School district has driven down its costs and sees savings every year.
The Fortune post-mortem concludes Haven failed because there are too many variants for a top down driven solution to work. Curt and our team could not agree more. Changing our health care system will only work if we do it at the grassroots, company by company.
It starts with all of us: employers looking at the best options, and em- ployees taking on a more engaged role in how they consume those bene- fits. If we work at it, we can all be part of the change.
It might not have the same flash as the big bang, but all those little pops add up.