When Haven launched in February 2018, the healthcare concern made quite a splash both because of the collective power of its backers, (Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JP Morgan) and Amazon’s stunning success in commercializing services and revolutionizing delivery models.
Still, questions loomed large at the beginning. Amazon and its partners offered only minimal detail about the “independent” healthcare concern they were creating beyond the notion that the triumvirate were pooling resources to focus on creating technology solutions to “provide US employees and their families with simplified, high-quality and transparent healthcare at a reasonable cost.”
With healthcare comprising approximately 18 percent and growing of the US Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at the time, lowering related costs was an admirable if vague goal. Now two years later that lack of clear objective in combination with the outsized scope of the healthcare cost challenge seems to have sunk the venture.
Haven may have suffered from lack of buying power
There were other issues that also may have sealed Haven’s fate from the start. Even with 1.2 million combined employees, Amazon and its partners lacked to the collective buying power to significantly change the healthcare cost calculus. The triumvirate appointed Dr. Atul Gawande, a noted surgeon, author and Harvard professor who had never led such a major corporate effort. Gawande left Haven in May 2020.
Also product development conflicts arose between Haven and Amazon with both entities developing similar and thus potentially competing telehealth initiatives. Reports surfaced that Haven was in the dark about the telemedicine work Amazon was doing independently.
And with the global pandemic continuing to rage on shifting healthcare investment priorities elsewhere may have been the final nail in Haven’s coffin. In the joint statement announcing the end of Haven’s operations, its founders said they apply learnings from Haven and “continue to collaborate informally to design programs tailored to address the specific needs” of their individual employee populations.