Former Haven CEO Dr. Atul Gawande on what went wrong for the healthcare venture

Haven, the healthcare partnership formed by Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathway, is disbanding less than three years after forming. Atul Gawande, MD, Haven's former CEO, explained why the venture wasn't set up to succeed in a discussion Feb. 26 with Robert Wachter, MD, chair of the University of California San Francisco's department of medicine. 

Dr. Gawande, who was named CEO of Haven in July 2018, but stepped down from the role in May 2020 to focus on public policy around COVID-19, said Haven accomplished a lot over the past two and half years, including designing a coverage model with no co-insurance and no deductibles. But America's healthcare and health insurance system is flawed, and that was highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic when workers lost their jobs and benefits, Dr. Gawande said, according to MedPage Today

"We have an employer-based system. A job-based system is a broken system in a world where people are moving every couple of years to different roles and many, many, kinds of jobs," he said, according to MedPage

"The vulnerability we have of tying your healthcare to your job, that remains still a big hill to climb, and the government has to solve it. This is a public core issue that we still have not faced up to," Dr. Gawande said. 

Haven formed with an aim to lower healthcare costs for the three companies' workers. However, it became clear that assuming responsibility for the benefits management at the companies, which had distinct organizational cultures, would be a daunting task for several reasons, including because workers were in different cities, according to Dr. Gawande. 

"It definitely did not become what we thought it would be," he said. 

Listen to the full discussion here



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