When online retailer Amazon launched a joint venture with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase to improve healthcare while lowering its cost, healthcare companies almost panicked. Given Amazon's history of industry disruption, it didn't seem like much of a stretch that the combined power of the online behemoth and JPMorgan and Berkshire could turn healthcare upside down – and not necessarily to the benefit of all major industry players. But three years later, that joint venture – named Haven – is disbanding, having never gained much traction. All three of the companies will continue to pursue healthcare improvements on their own, and they will collaborate in the future, but on a more informal basis.
The move to shutter Haven may be a sign of how difficult it is to radically improve American health care, a complicated and entrenched system of doctors, insurers, drugmakers and middlemen that costs the country $3.5 trillion every year.