Massive companies like Apple and Amazon are exploring new ways to care for the health of their employees -- and it could upend the way healthcare's done

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
  • Apple is launching health clinics where its employees can get care in the spring, CNBC reported on Tuesday.
  • Employers, especially those acting as their employee’s health insurers like Apple does, are starting to take a more active role in healthcare.
  • The move, along with the news that JPMorgan, Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway are forming a new independent nonprofit venture aimed at lowering healthcare costs for their employees, has people looking at employer-sponsored health plans in a new light.

Companies like Apple are starting to take a more active role in their employees’ healthcare.

That includes confronting the rising cost of healthcare, along with attempts to try and improve the quality of the care their employees receive.

One way to pull that off is by building healthcare clinics built solely for employees. Clinics located in or near company headquarters have traditionally been a benefit at certain companies, including banks, and of course hospitals.

Now, Apple’s joining in.

Apple’s clinics, called AC Wellness Networks, will be run independently from Apple but will be exclusively for its employees, CNBC first reported on Tuesday. Apple employs about 25,000 people in the Bay Area in California, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

“AC Wellness Network believes that having trusting, accessible relationships with our patients, enabled by technology, promotes high-quality care and a unique patient experience,” wrote on one of its job listings. AC Wellness is expected to launch in the spring, according to its website.

According to the clinic’s website, Apple’s hiring everything from exercise coaches to primary care doctors and blood-testing experts.

The goal of having healthcare facilities onsite or near where employees spend most of their day is that they might have better access to healthcare with fewer excuses not to go to the doctor’s office for routine check-ups or when they’re feeling under the weather. That way, you might be able to prevent more costlier visits down the line, which companies like Apple would be on the hook for covering.

Employers are putting pressure on the healthcare system

The move, along with news that JPMorgan, Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway are forming a new independent nonprofit venture aimed at lowering healthcare costs for their employees, has people looking at employer-sponsored health plans in a new light.

The insurance companies are there in the middle to handle the logistics of getting the claim from one place to another, which means you might not realise your employer’s footing the entire bill on the other end. Employers pay insurance companies for their services on a per member, per month basis. More than half of the non-elderly population is covered by an employer-sponsored plan, and almost 80% of large companies are self-insured.

“I tell people, JPMorgan Chase already buys a $US1.5 billion of medical, and we self-insure,” JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon told Business Insider. It’s why his company, along with Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway, two other massive self-insured employers, are looking for new options. “Think of this, we’re already the insurance company, we’re already making these decisions, and we simply want do a better job,” Dimon said.

But, in order to make an impact that extends massive employers like Apple, JPMorgan, Amazon, and Berkshire Hathaway, it will take new initiatives that don’t just focus on cutting a few costs.

“It isn’t difficult to shave a little bit off here,” Warren Buffett said on Monday. “The question is whether we can come up with something better. I’m hopeful, but don’t expect any miracles.”

Because the companies cover so many people, they might have the negotiating power to make that happen, at least in one of a number of ways, like negotiating better prices or building out better plans of their own.

NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos

Want to read a more in-depth view on the trends influencing Australian business and the global economy? BI / Research is designed to help executives and industry leaders understand the major challenges and opportunities for industry, technology, strategy and the economy in the future. Sign up for free at research.businessinsider.com.au.