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We Just Witnessed One of the Biggest Indictments You'll Ever See of a Country's Health Care System

February 7, 2018 in Blogs

By Marshall Auerback, AlterNet

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Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon can learn a lot from Medicare, if they're serious about a health care company.

Warren Buffett has long decried the ballooning cost of health care as a “hungry tapeworm on the American economy,” eating up the country’s wealth from within. Evidently, Jeff Bezos and Jamie Dimon all feel the same way, as evidenced by the recent joint announcement by their three companies, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase, of their plan to form a new entity that will tackle the high costs associated with U.S. health care. In a tortuously phrased press release, the announcement proclaimed that the new company would be “free from profit-making incentives and constraints,” but an Amazon spokesperson declined to comment on whether the entity would actually be a non-profit.

It seems a pretty squirrely way of admitting that our current system, dominated by for-profit private insurance, does not represent the optimal means of delivering health care. The call to action also implies that the three executives have little faith that the magic of the market on its own will somehow manage to provide insurance so cheap that everyone will be able to afford it whatever their income and medical status. Buffett himself has long been in the skeptics’ camp. As early as 2010, he opined that the current system was “hurting the U.S. economy in relation to other developed nations where costs are lower, even though there are more doctors, nurses and hospital beds per person… we have a health system that, in terms of costs, is really out of control. And if you take this line and you project what has been happening into the future, we will get less and less competitive. So we need something else.”

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