In February, JPMorgan, Amazon, and Berkshire Hathaway ended Haven, a buzzy joint venture that sought to improve patient outcomes through better primary care and that shook up the entire healthcare world. Now, the banking giant is launching its own version of Haven: Morgan Health.
Dan Mendelson, a healthcare consultant who previously served as the associate director for health at the Office of Management and Budget under the Clinton administration, will head up JPMorgan’s new health company. He says that Morgan Health will have the same goals as Haven did, in terms of improving quality, access, and cost, but differ in its approach. “The Haven experience focused us on primary care, digital medicine, and specific populations. . . . You can see this as a continuation of the work that was started at Haven,” he said in an interview with healthcare industry publication Becker’s Hospital Review.
Haven was attempting to build a system from the ground up, he says. Instead of taking that approach, Morgan Health will focus on collaborating with outside partners to create a new health program for the bank’s 165,000 employees and their families. The goal of the new venture is to reinvent how employees receive their healthcare. At least initially, Morgan Health will invest $250 million in finding the right mix of health-tech solutions and employee benefit programs. The group is already working with CVS Health/Aetna, though it hasn’t specified details of the arrangement yet.
In general, employers are seeking myriad ways to bring down the ever-rising cost of healthcare for employees. In 2020, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported the average premium for family plans grew 55% over the last 10 years. An increasing portion of the cost of that premium is being shifted to workers, according to the foundation’s analysis.
Big companies such as JPMorgan and Amazon are investing in a bevy of employee benefit programs to try and make their offering more holistic and reduce their healthcare costs. Before the breakup of Haven, Amazon launched its own in-house network, called Amazon Care. It was originally a limited pilot offering urgent and primary care, through telehealth and through a few at-home medical services delivered by a nurse. The company also has employee health clinics and a pharmacy. In March, the company expanded Amazon Care to its employees nationally and may expand it to other employers.
Achieving high-quality care with lower costs and making sure patients have access is a difficult feat to achieve because it requires each aspect of the healthcare system—patients, doctors, employers, and insurers—to be on the same page. Commenting on the difficulties in healthcare in January, former Haven CEO Atul Gawande said, “You have a variety of things that you need to pull together to make things happen to change healthcare. You need access to the patients, you need access to the clinicians, you need access to the incentives that guide the patients and the clinicians, and you need access to data. Nobody has all four. You’re always missing the financing and the capital or the access to the data or the access to the providers. So you’re constantly needing to pull partnerships together.”
In that same conversation, he advocated for strengthening primary care as a way to cost-effectively achieve better outcomes, something Amazon has done. Gawande, who is a surgeon by training and a public health researcher, also said that ideally, a person would have a care team that is easily reachable to help individuals navigate everyday health needs quickly. The reality is primary care doctors have not been incentivized to coordinate care over the phone, email, or video, because those visits were not covered by insurance. In light of the pandemic, during which almost all care was conducted online for periods of months, that may be changing.
But there are still other hurdles to driving down costs and driving up quality. It’s not clear why Haven disbanded, though there has been endless speculation on why the venture didn’t work. As Gawande, who stepped down as CEO in March 2020, has said, it is difficult to align the various stakeholders in healthcare to deliver affordable, high-quality services. There may have been additional challenges to working across three separate companies.
As a single major corporation with a large population of workers, JPMorgan may be able to negotiate with companies on price while also incentivizing them to innovate on new products. Mendelson sees a particular opportunity in working with CVS/Aetna. “CVS Health has a lot of innovation within the organization that we are not currently tapping into,” said Mendelson in his interview with Becker’s Hospital Review. “It’s a great example of a great American company that is ripe for further partnership and innovation in this effort.”