Healthcare's Final Battle: The Empire versus The Rebel Alliance

We may finally have reached a tipping point to begin restoring sanity to our healthcare system:

Amazon, Warren Buffett and JPMorgan Chase are forming a new company to address the health care costs of their employees, sending shares of health care companies down sharply across the entire sector despite the vague nature of the announcement.

On Tuesday Amazon's Jeff Bezos said that he, along with Buffet and JPMorgan, would attempt to make health care better for hundreds of thousands of their employees, and perhaps, eventually, the country.

There were few details and those involved said the project is in the early planning stage.

"The ballooning costs of (health care) act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy," said Buffett, the head of Berkshire Hathaway, in a prepared statement. "Our group does not come to this problem with answers. But we also do not accept it as inevitable." -

For decades, the Empire has dominated the American healthcare system. These increasingly-large organizations carve out well-defended positions from which they extract reliable rent from the growing prevalence of chronic disease.

In the Empire's rent-seeking vernacular, chronic disease must be "managed", and disease "management" is best accomplished through patient "compliance" -- that is, taking your medications as prescribed.

Can you blame them? Chronic disease is an immensely profitable growth market. Starting with the historic jump in obesity rates from 1980-2000:

... and, beginning in 1990 after a ten-year lag, skyrocketing diabetes:

... there's never been a better opportunity to turn chronic disease into recurring revenue.

The problem, of course, is that people don't enjoy being sick. And the past fifteen years of stagnant wages for American workers reflect the fact that nearly all compensation increases have been shoveled into the healthcare system. Here's a picture of Mr. Buffett's tapeworm consuming the American economy:

Despite these unsustainable trends, the CDC itself is telling Americans that the solution to poor health is not more healthcare.

Yet what is the alternative?

A growing Rebel Alliance understands that truly fixing healthcare starts with chronic disease reversal, not just disease management. The Rebel Alliance understands that chronic disease, especially musculoskeletal, metabolic and inflammatory disease, is preventable and even reversible with diet, lifestyle, and activity changes. Putting chronic disease into indefinite clinical remission should be, and can be, our ultimate goal when we embrace value creation instead of rent seeking as the standard by which we judge success.

So is disease reversal possible? Absolutely -- once we start addressing the root cause. For example, metabolic diseases like diabetes and obesity can often be reversed by better fueling your metabolism. Chronic systemic inflammation underlying many conditions can be quieted by identifying and removing the triggers aggravating your immune system, and restoring integrity to the systems (especially the gut) that shield your immune system from the outside world. The growing field of Functional Medicine leverages these principles to offer holistic, science-based, personalized care that seeks to understand and address the root cause of disease instead of simply treating symptoms.

For example, one of our Journey 2 Health clients with a twenty-year history of rheumatoid arthritis partnered with a functional medicine physician through the EHOP Health Deep Dive program. Specific diet and nutritional therapy resulted in improved inflammatory symptoms, and eliminated a specialty medication that cost the employer's health plan $3,850 per month. Over a 12-month period, this $46,200 savings for one client is a 1.4:1 ROI relative to the Journey 2 Health program cost for the entire company.

Is a JPMorgan/Amazon/Berkshire ("JABba") alliance enough to fix healthcare? Will Mr. Buffett's group find the answers it seeks? The answers you find depend on the questions you ask; only time will tell if JABba will side with the Empire, or the Rebel Alliance. In the meantime, forward-thinking people and companies are already embracing these principles through the Journey 2 Health for their own benefit, and the benefit of their employees.

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