Well, if the healthcare industry didn't have enough uncertainty on its plate (it did), it got served a pipin' hot helpin' of "what the actual fuck is this?!" on Tuesday morning when Amazon, Berkshire and JPMorgan said they're planning on teaming up on a way to offer health care services to their employees.
What does that even mean? Well, that's part of the problem for the likes of UnitedHealth, CVS and McKesson, which all fell sharply in the pre-market on the headline:
See the thing is, whatever industry you happen to be in, just about the last thing you want to hear is that Jeff Bezos is thinking about postin' up on your block, because if he does, your hustle is over. Whatever it is you were selling, Jeff's going to sell it cheaper and deliver it more efficiently and that goes for everything from used paperbacks to avocados.
The pharmaceutical industry has been on edge for months about Jeff's rumored plans to become an actual drug dealer and Tuesday morning's news only serves to heighten those concerns.
Just about the only way news of a Bezos broadside could be any worse for the healthcare industry is if he was partnering with Warren fucking Buffett who knows a thing or $85 billion about the insurance business. Actually it could be worse. It would be worse if Bezos were partnering with Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon and they announced something that certainly sounds like a coordinated effort to tackle healthcare inflation in America.
"The idea of 'fixing healthcare' is so left-field that there's a temptation to write it off," Bloomberg's Andrew Cinko writes, before explaining in no uncertain terms why you absolutely cannot write it off: "But when it comes to such a powerful trio -- and with Bezos's track record in particular -- that may prove to be a mistake."
Yes, writing off Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, and Jamie Dimon "may prove to be a mistake." And that "may prove" to be an understatement.
Speaking of statements, here are some excerpts from the press release that accompanied the news:
“The ballooning costs of healthcare act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy. Our group does not come to this problem with answers. But we also do not accept it as inevitable. Rather, we share the belief that putting our collective resources behind the country’s best talent can, in time, check the rise in health costs while concurrently enhancing patient satisfaction and outcomes,” said Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO, Warren Buffett.
“The healthcare system is complex, and we enter into this challenge open-eyed about the degree of difficulty,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “Hard as it might be, reducing healthcare’s burden on the economy while improving outcomes for employees and their families would be worth the effort. Success is going to require talented experts, a beginner’s mind, and a long-term orientation.”
“Our people want transparency, knowledge and control when it comes to managing their healthcare,” said Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase. “The three of our companies have extraordinary resources, and our goal is to create solutions that benefit our U.S. employees, their families and, potentially, all Americans,” he added.
Note Dimon's reference to "extraordinary resources."
Perhaps Veda Partners analyst Spencer Perlman put it best in a note out this morning:
The Amazon boogie-man [has] struck.
So good luck to all the companies that are going to have to stare down Bezos, Buffett, and Dimon. You're going to need it.
And while there are certainly more questions than answers on Tuesday, perhaps the most pressing issue is this: