Your next healthcare provider will be available through your Amazon account. Amazon recently moved to acquire 1LifeHealthcare, commonly known as One Medical, in its push to become the one-stop-shop for everything you could ever need. But why now, and what would this acquisition look like?
Well, Amazon has been looking into healthcare for years, first making the jump in 2018 with a program called Haven. In a partnership with both J.P. Morgan & Chase and Berkshire Hathaway, Amazon wanted to build a healthcare platform that provided affordable and virtual care to lower costs associated with healthcare like insurance. This venture revealed just how hard it is for outsiders to penetrate and reform the healthcare industry, pushing all three giants out.
But then the pandemic happened. People now needed – and few had other alternatives – to receive virtual healthcare, inciting the majority of providers to adapt to the virtual care space. This move pushed insurers to expand their breadth of coverage to cover more telehealth, and reopened the door for Amazon’s healthcare initiatives after Haven disbanded in 2021.
Amazon realized the problem wasn’t the idea, but the content. To become a provider, Amazon needed to take over a provider. This is where One Medical enters the scene. One Medical already has doctors, psychiatrists, therapists, and the like. By using the pre-established medical network, Amazon now has access to all its health clinics and virtual spaces, taking out the middleman.
Look at Amazon Care, Amazon’s healthcare portal for employers. It not only has telehealth options, but also a healthcare provider can come straight to your door. It’s a 24 hour service that provides preventative, emergency, and ongoing care. With One Medical, Amazon Care will be available to a much larger consumer base and have more options for services offered, as well as pre-established clinics. For those in rural areas, Amazon Care is a major upgrade for minor illnesses compared to traveling hours to the nearest hospital.
Beyond trying to solve the healthcare problem in the U.S., Amazon will see high financial benefits from this acquisition. Think about recurring medications. When you have a monthly prescription from CVS, oftentimes you’re maybe two or three days late picking it up. In a year, that’s about one bottle less that CVS sold. But with Amazon, you’ll have either a recurring scheduled delivery or same/next day delivery. One more bottle for each consumer a year makes this 3.9 billion dollar sale seem like a steal.
And Amazon won’t need to create a whole new subsidiary for pharmaceuticals, it already has one. Amazon Pharmacy launched in 2020, marketing as a cheaper alternative to standard pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS. While the medications still require prescriptions, even without insurance the costs of medications with a Prime membership are significantly less than other providers. Whereas GoodRx just provides coupons that may or may not work at your local pharmacy, Amazon Pharmacy gives upfront pricing and offers copays with insurance.
Amazon’s acquisition of One Medical could drastically improve American healthcare, becoming an affordable, accessible option for the millions of Americans who have limited means to receive proper care. What industry will Amazon take over next?