By Kyle Mannisi, Opinions Editor
Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase announced that their companies would be entering into a partnership to create better healthcare for their workers. The mega-firms have been short on specifics, but insurance analysts have said that would likely be funding their own health insurance.
Many big companies do that nowadays, but this merger is poised to utilize Amazon’s massive distribution network to deliver better healthcare for consumers. The United States government spends more per capita on healthcare than almost every other first world nation, yet consistently lags behind in citizen health and life expectancy.
Although the plans are still largely unclear, insurance companies were sent a few minor shockwaves at the marketplace. Express Scripts reported a 7 percent drop after the announcement, alongside other major insurers like Cigna and Anthem, which fell 3 percent.
Bezos, now the richest man in the world, recently gained $2.8 billion dollars in a single day after Amazon stock rose 2.5 percent. Now, with a net worth estimated to be around $118 billion dollars, Bezos wants to change healthcare for his workers. Roughly 40 percent of their employees lack job benefits and security, due to Amazon’s practice of hiring workers indirectly to escape liability.
Amazon recently opened a massive new corporate office space in Seattle for its high level workers, the most recent addition to the four billion dollar headquarters. After St. Louis was effectively eliminated from the running to host Amazon’s second headquarters, personally I was relieved. Parts of urban Seattle have been taken over by Amazon’s sprawling $4 billion campus, and damage to infrastructure like roads and bridges, worn down by Amazon’s fleet, are to be paid for by taxpayers.
Cities in contention are offering massive tax abatement programs for Amazon, meaning the retail giant could pay less taxes in the first twenty years than an average small business would. The deal is poised to benefit Amazon much more than the prospective city would, though politicians keen to score points with the business class would beg to differ.
Amazon has a bad track record for undermining wages, jobs, and working conditions in their warehouses. Nondescript concrete warehouses that span football fields in length are where workers known as “pickers” are expected to find 1,200 items in a single 10-hour shift and to “get on their hands and knees 250 to 300 times a day,” according to a man working as a picker in a Pennsylvania warehouse, who relayed these work conditions to The Morning Call. These production standards are 60 percent higher than industry standard, increasing the strain on their already overworked and underpaid warehouse employees.
After Christmas last year, Trump called out Amazon for taking advantage of the United States Postal Services’ delivery systems without being charged the full amount. “Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer?” Trump tweeted.
It is clear that the company is not interested in helping the less fortunate, or really anyone that is not on Amazon’s Board. Amazon’s brick-and-mortar grocery store “Amazon Go” reportedly will not accept food stamps.
Will a healthcare system devised by a company that has been responsible for these questionable practices actually benefit their already low-wage employees?