Written by: Casey Floyd
In late January, Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, and Berkshire Hathaway announced they will join forces to create an independent healthcare company for their collective one million US employees. Warren Buffett cites healthcare costs as his motivation for getting involved in this venture, stating “The ballooning costs of healthcare act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy.” But what does this mean for the healthcare industry as a whole?
How Big Can This Impact Be?
It’s undeniable that the financial strain of providing healthcare coverage on businesses needs to be addressed, and it is encouraging to see such behemoths seeking new solutions to existing problems. But will the impact of their efforts be large enough and sufficiently replicable to address the overall concerns of the industry? Their combined employees and dependents represent only 1% of the population. Skeptics rightly point out that for this new venture to truly revolutionize healthcare, it must eventually lead to something that could cover the remaining 99%.
There is a proposed solution, albeit a controversial one: Medicare for all. Now, we won’t necessarily go down the path of advocating for socialized medicine, as this is a very partisan issue (that’s for the politicians to work out). Rather, we will point out that this hint of offering Medicare to the masses underscores its benefits for all those that are eligible.
The Population Continues to Age
A recent podcast put out by eMarketer titled “Amazon’s Foray into Digital Health” states simply that as the Baby Boomers age, Americans are getting older and sicker. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that the number of people living with diabetes rose from 10 million in the 1990s to over 25 million today (for context, it was less than 2 million in 1959). In addition, heart disease is still responsible for 1 in 4 deaths. As the population continues to skew older, these numbers don’t look like they will decline anytime soon.
A Case for Medicare
As much needed disruptions in the healthcare space takes place, and as we wait to see the impact of this recent announcement, Medicare remains a vital alternative to employer-based plans for aging Boomers with chronic conditions. Medicare Special Needs Plans (SNPs) are a type of Medicare Advantage plan available to people with specific diseases or conditions, and they provide tailored benefits, provider choices, and drug formularies to best meet the individual’s needs. Additionally, while these plans are offered by private companies, they are government-funded, so the healthcare provider network is compensated on the health and longevity of the patient (rather than a fee-for-service model). These plans remove some financial strain from businesses (by placing individuals on private insurance rather than employer-based plans), place incentive in the right place for provider groups, and offer tailored care benefits to the ailed. Hypothetically speaking, if there were an expansion of these plans to cover individuals below the age of 65, the collective benefits to both employers and employees could be monumental.
How We Can Help
While Medicare for all is not likely to become reality in the near future, all available demographics indicate that the greatest opportunity for healthcare providers to grow their patient population is found in this 65+, Medicare-eligible population. At MassMedia Health, helping provider groups grow their Medicare patient profile is what we do. The industry will continue to evolve in years to come, and disruptors will only continue to emerge. From adapting to changes that affect your populations to enhancing the patient experience, we provide comprehensive solutions that achieve clear, measurable, and in many cases, dramatic results. Our team of experts and creative professionals are not just highly experienced in the industry— we are passionate about healthcare. If your organization is ready to start growing its Medicare patient population, give us a call today to learn what we can do for you.
 eMarketer – Amazon’s Foray into Digital Health
 Center for Disease Control (CDC) – Long-term Trends in Diabetes