'Prime Health' and the Regulation of Hybrid Healthcare
49 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2018 Last revised: 8 Nov 2018
Date Written: September 9, 2018
This article examines the possible constructs behind the announcement by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase & Co., that they are jointly building a new healthcare entity for their employees. The article provides context by discussing and comparing the healthcare ambitions of the three largest information technology companies and argues that various forms of hybrid entities will increase their footprint in healthcare data and delivery. The core of the article is a thought experiment about the nature of what the article terms “Prime Health.” That analysis is based initially on observations about Amazon’s existing culture and business model of Amazon. Thereafter the article examines both what Prime Health could and should be, arguing that it will go beyond the pedestrian model of a very large self-funded group insurance plan, will disintermediate traditional healthcare insurers, and attempt to bring consumers and healthcare providers together into some type of online marketplace; an updated, privatized version of managed competition. The final parts of the article deal with the regulatory environment that hybrid healthcare generally and Prime Health in particular will face. The analysis includes federal device and data protection laws, some idiosyncratic state laws, and a brief discussion of the problems inherent in the limited regulation of hybrid healthcare entities.
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