Last year, Warren Buffet teamed up with Jeff Bezos and Jamie Dimon to organize a private, nonprofit, joint venture called Haven Healthcare.  Between their three companies: Berkshire Hathaway, Amazon, and JPMorgan Chase, they have over a million employees.  The goals of Haven mirror the goals of the nation – reducing healthcare expenses while providing high quality care. 

Warren Buffett did an interview with Yahoo finance earlier this week, where he talked about how these efforts relate to the current US healthcare situation.  It’s a very complicated 3.4 trillion dollar industry that takes up 18% of the economy.  Buffett says that while Americans are leading in healthcare innovation, the spending is still excessive.  He says, “We’ve got this incredible economic machine, but we shouldn’t be spending 18% when other countries are doing something comparable.”  He also talks about the public vs. private sector in providing the needed change to the healthcare system.  “If the private sector doesn’t supply that over a period of time, people will say then, we give up, we’ve got to turn this over to government, which will probably be even worse.” 

Buffett says that a big part of the problem is that the part of the economy that the 3.4 trillion goes to aren’t eager to change how things are, even though they know the US healthcare system needs to be fixed.  “Everyone thinks the system needs to be adjusted, just not their part of the system.”

Jack Stoddard, the COO of Haven, gave a testimony in court where he went into greater detail about what the plan for Haven was.  In large part, it intends to succeed by running experiments on a small scale to test out a concept and collecting data.  Stoddard said that these tests would be the focus of Haven for 2019.  He said: “So what if we were to make it easier for people to get primary care?  What if we made maintenance medications less expensive?  We could design a test.  We could figure out what that would cost.  We could derive what we think the expected outcomes would be.  And then we could ask an employer to go and deploy it.” 

Haven was officially launched last year and it officially got a name and a website earlier this month.  It is still in the early stages and it remains to be seen what conclusions these small scale tests will turn up.  It also remains to be seen how this private sector initiative will affect the call for government involvement in healthcare.   One thing is sure, though – when some of the richest people in the world get together to do an ambitious and long-term project and don’t give timelines or details, there will be a lot of speculation. 

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