Amazon tests program to take better care of employees’ health

Discussion
Photos: Amazon
Sep 26, 2019
George Anderson

Amazon.com has introduced Amazon Care, a new medical service for employees in the area around its Seattle headquarters that are enrolled in one of the company’s health insurance plans.

In true Amazon fashion, the new program takes advantage of technology to offer medical care solutions for workers, including care chat, an in-app text feature whereby employees can ask nurses healthcare questions, and video care, a telemedicine program featuring doctors and nurses discussing symptoms and concerns and providing diagnosis and treatment plans.

Amazon’s pilot also includes mobile care, a service that deploys nurses to employees’ homes or offices to conduct exams and/or administer treatment. If a worker needs prescription medicines, Amazon’s care courier service will deliver what’s needed right to the home or office, as well.

Current service hours for the Amazon Care pilot are 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekends. Amazon plans to extend service hours going forward.

Amazon Care, according to CNBC, grew out of Amazon’s announcement last year that it would join with Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan Chase to form Haven, an initiative focused on lowering the costs associated with healthcare without cutting service corners.

The same CNBC report points out that Amazon isn’t alone in offering healthcare services for employees. Apple operates clinics under the AC Wellness banner near its headquarters in Cupertino, CA.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Where do you see Amazon realizing the biggest benefits from the Amazon Care program — reducing healthcare expenses, cutting back on absenteeism, employee recruiting and retention, etc.? Do you see Amazon Care as a model for programs that other large retail companies are likely to follow?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"We already receive our batteries, bananas, and video content from Amazon -- next up: healthcare."
"I am just speculating, but it is possible that Amazon’s real long-term play is to offer Amazon Care to the public..."
"The runaway cost increases of healthcare in the U.S. begs for disruptive solutions because the dynamic structure that created this situation cannot solve its own creation."

Join the Discussion!

11 Comments on "Amazon tests program to take better care of employees’ health"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

Healthcare is and will remain an important consideration for all stakeholders, and the Amazon Care program is a true win-win for employees and Amazon. There are many benefits to employer health service programs, and reduced cost and better access to medical services are among the most critical in my opinion. As noted, Amazon was not the first to offer this type of health service to employees, and I doubt they will be the last. In fact, I see this type of employee health program becoming much more commonplace as other large employers recognize the substantial benefits to the company and its employees. And while I commend Amazon for launching the Amazon Care initiative, I find it ironic that just weeks ago, they announced that they were cutting health benefits for part-time employees at Whole Foods.

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

I’m not sure that other retail companies (other than, say, Walmart) have the bandwidth for an initiative like Amazon Care, unless their partnerships with insurers can be extended to offer this kind of service. Rather, they may well seek out Amazon Care as an outside provider to their own employees.

I am just speculating, but it is possible that Amazon’s real long-term play is to offer Amazon Care to the public — maybe as a benefit of Prime membership, maybe as a monthly subscription or “fee for service” basis.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

Healthcare is the next frontier for the Seattle e-commerce giant. We would be mistaken to believe that Amazon is only a disruptive force in the retail space. Bezos and the Amazon leadership team have been focusing on a diversification strategy that includes a combination of services, such as AWS, hardware with their Alexa capabilities, and now the next wave of disruption in the health services sector.

Amazon’s ambitious healthcare plans will offer additional incentives for folks to join the organization. By streamlining a normally friction-filled experience, a digital-first, personalized health care experience could become a major force to be reckoned with, and other large corporations should take note. This is a paradigm shift, and we will look back on this being the first move towards Amazon launching benchmark healthcare services for consumers. Healthcare providers should take note, as this could become Amazon’s next AWS.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

Everyone talks about the cost of healthcare being prohibitive to Americans. Nobody talks about health insurance being prohibitive to the companies. Depending on the size of the company, health insurance costs can be as much as 8 percent to 18 percent of a company’s total costs and they are not even something core to their business. And they are rising at a rate of 6 percent per year.

Amazon Care is basically a preventive program that fixes problems before they get out of hand. It is a savings for the employee and the company. The data is clear that private health insurance is exorbitantly priced. That is why Amazon, Walmart and JPChase are working on alternatives.

The challenge of course is how to make this available to smaller companies that don’t have the resources. To me that is easy. Copy and paste. License it out.

Of course there is the bigger question. Why do companies in America pay for health insurance at all?

Ray Riley
BrainTrust

Amazon Care is the pilot program for the broader announcement from Bezos, Jamie Dimon, and Warren Buffett made in January of 2018. This is a very large group where the healthcare model can be refined for broader application. We already receive our batteries, bananas, and video content from Amazon — next up: healthcare.

Brad Johnson
Guest
2 months 8 days ago

Healthcare and beyond! They already offer prefab and container homes, so what’s to stop them from insuring those homes as well… or even offering financing on them?

Lee Kent
BrainTrust

The concept of reducing healthcare costs goes well beyond a perk for employees. Some insurance providers are also trying to set up similar offerings and I’m seeing this as the better end game. For my 2 cents.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

Building employee loyalty by making their everyday lives easier to live is more important than reducing absenteeism. That’s where the real payoff is. Ironic that the same company offering this level of care to some employees is enacting policies at Whole Foods that make it tougher for some employees to make a living. As to the second question, somebody has to do something about the cost of healthcare, health insurance, corporate health plans, pharmaceuticals, etc., etc. And at the rate we are going, it’s more likely that “someone” will be a business rather than a Congress or a President. This problems appears to be beyond the government’s ability to resolve — at least that’s the way it looks based on struggles for healthcare reform from FDR forward. So, like it or not, somebody has got to start experimenting with models to see what does and doesn’t work. Is something like Amazon Care the right model? Only time will tell.

Mohamed Amer
BrainTrust

The runaway cost increases of healthcare in the U.S. begs for disruptive solutions because the dynamic structure that created this situation cannot solve its own creation. Amazon’s test program is aimed at a slice of healthcare leveraged and delivered through new technologies and has real potential to reduce outlays.

While Dick Seesel speculated earlier on this, I am relatively confident that Amazon’s long view here is to create a desirable and needed service for the public.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust

As mentioned in the article several companies are experimenting with a variety of plans. Time away from the job for illness can be reduced by having healthier employees. In addition healthy employees can function better than employees who are not feeling well. More experimentation is necessary before determining which plan to follow, but efforts in this area should continue.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

Am I far too cynical that as I read the list of services, I mostly see that Amazon is making it possible for employees to stay chained to their desks more?

I’ll answer that question: Yes. Yet given Amazon’s labor history, this is likely yet another Amazon prestidigitation trick… “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…”

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"We already receive our batteries, bananas, and video content from Amazon -- next up: healthcare."
"I am just speculating, but it is possible that Amazon’s real long-term play is to offer Amazon Care to the public..."
"The runaway cost increases of healthcare in the U.S. begs for disruptive solutions because the dynamic structure that created this situation cannot solve its own creation."

Take Our Instant Poll

How likely is it that American shoppers would take advantage of services such as the “Coffee Corner” and “Chatter Checkout” if offered by their local grocery stores?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...