Painful Truth: Amazon is coming for health care. Run!

Billionaires with no experience in health? Why does that sound like a recipe for disaster.

Three billionaires walk into a bar.

“What’ll it be?” says the bartender.

“We’re going to fix health care!” says the first billionaire.

That’s not a punchline because it’s not a joke. Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan, and Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway are teaming up, like a plutocratic version of the Superfriends, to rescue (American) health care from waste and confusion.

Guys, I’m grateful every day to live in Canada, but seldom have I been so grateful as the day I heard the Lex Luthor-looking dude in charge of Amazon was trying to fix American health care.

I’m seriously considering going down to the 49th parallel and setting up a giant sign that says “RUN NOW! FLEE WHILE YOU CAN!”

Is our health care system perfect? No. Could we improve it? Yes.

Will we ever be chased down the streets by syringe-tipped drones, operated by minimum-wage shift workers in a sweltering warehouse in Akron? No. But that’s probably in the cards for our American cousins once AmazonPrimeHealth kicks in.

Everything about this venture reeks of hubris.

First, they openly announced that they don’t have a plan yet. Or any ideas, other than the vague notion that somehow “technology” will help streamline health care.

Second, they are like a large number of people who have achieved vast success in one area of endeavour. They think this has made them experts at everything.

That’s not how it works. The world’s greatest chef is not automatically also the world’s greatest trapeze artist.

“Making money” is essentially its own skill, as many rich men who’ve run straight into a brick wall in politics or even in other business sectors have discovered.*

Third and finally, health care is likely too big even for three of the world’s richest people to solve. It’s the kind of thing you tackle when you have the resources of a nation, including the power to tax and make policy.

Frankly, the whole thing will probably dissolve in a few months and be forgotten. If it isn’t, a lot of hubris and a lot of money can cause real damage.

Even if they have good intentions… well, maybe Buffett has good intentions. But if you think I trust a bank CEO or the head of Amazon, I’ve got a medical tech startup to sell you.

Bezos is the scariest of the trio. He literally has so much money that he could fill an Olympic sized swimming pool and go for a dip like Scrooge McDuck. Meanwhile, Amazon has crushed every attempt at unionization and drives many of its warehouse workers to exhaustion, all in the name of shareholder value and efficiency.

You can bet their plans will start out with something simple, like an app that collects your health information and makes it readily available to Russian hackers. But a decade from now, Amazon Organ Collection units will be out repossessing the spleens of people who fell behind on their Prime membership payments.

* Yes, Donald Trump. I’d argue he was terrible at business to start with. His core skill seems to be “huckster.”

Just Posted

Langley actors up for challenge of period romance

Two TWU students learn how much they have in common with each other and their characters.

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

ELECTION: Langley Township council candidate Michael Pratt

A Voter’s Guide to key election questions.

VIDEO: Fire crew mopping up workshop fire near Golden Ears Bridge

Structure fire at 208 and 102B sending plumes of black smoke into air above Walnut Grove

WHAT’S IN STORE: Amazed by Langley’s generosity

Keep sharing information about what your business or store is doing to help people in the community.

Mellow opening to B.C.’s only legal pot shop

About five people lined up early for the opening of the BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops.

Jagmeet Singh says marijuana pardons are not enough

Trudeau government will streamline pardon process for Canadians convicted of simple possession of marijuana in the past

BC Ferries begins taking debit in two-month pilot project

Company is giving customers option to use Interac on two-month trial on select vessels

Caregivers banned from smoking, growing cannabis around children-in-care: MCFD

Ministry has limited cannabis use for caregivers, stating it may “pose a risk to children and youth.”

Cheaper strains sell out within minutes on online BC Cannabis Store

Province says new strains will become available in the coming months

Only 40% of B.C. car dealerships have electric cars available: report

Researchers found buyers frustrated at the lack of options

VIDEO: Millionaire Lottery returns to give back and win big

Since 1996, Millionaire Lottery has raised $52 million for the VGH+UBC Hospital Foundation

Test case challenges a politician’s right to block people from Twitter account

3 people say Watson infringed their constitutional right to freedom of expression by blocking them

Most Read