Let’s be honest, here: For most of us, Amazon already controls most major aspects of our lives (all the stuff Google and Facebook don’t take care of first, at least). It brings us our food. It sends us our toys. It even shows us what to watch (although probably not as much as it would like). And, now, it’s getting into taking care of our bodies—or, at least, the bodies of its half-million U.S. employees.
NPR reports that the massive retailer is teaming up with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway—Warren Buffett’s holding company, which owns Dairy Queen, Geico, and large stakes in all the major U.S. airlines—to form their own health insurance company, exclusively (for now) for employees of the three conglomerates. Buffett—who’s the world’s third-richest man, and is apparently good buddies with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, the world’s first richest man (a fact which is in no way deeply worrying or depressing)—took fire at America’s current health care costs via the announcement, calling them, “a hungry tapeworm on the American economy.” (Points to Warren for finding the grossest medical metaphor imaginable.)
There’s nothing new about corporate-owned healthcare; the White House has been pushing “workplace associations” very much like this since last year, as a way to potentially lower costs while still promoting the idea that healthcare should be treated like an “all hail the market” business endeavor, and not, say, a universal, socialized right, the way it is in most countries on the planet. And while the scale of the three companies—which, between them, employ nearly a million people in the U.S. alone—is staggeringly large, it’s worth noting that some of the country’s largest insurance companies, like Kaiser Permanente, started with this company store approach to keeping their workers insured.
Anyway, we were going to finish out here with a joke here about how Amazon will soon also be moving into the coffin business, the better to get a handle on every aspect of a human being’s time on this planet. But wouldn’t you know it, reality got there first: