Amazon’s Reach Extends to Healthcare

By Pete Mercer

March 2024 – The Journal of Healthcare Contracting

Amazon has tried different avenues in its quest to tap into the healthcare market in recent years. It acquired online pharmacy PillPack in 2018 and launched Amazon Care in 2019 as a primary care service for its employees that blended telehealth with in-person medical services. It unveiled Amazon Pharmacy in 2020 offering discounts to Prime members and free delivery. In 2021, Amazon Care expanded to outside employers and added in-person care options in multiple cities, but it shut down last August after struggling to get insurers on board and after Amazon’s acquisition of primary care provider One Medical for $3.9 billion.

Amazon Clinic was launched last November, which is available to people 18 to 64 years of age in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Customers can use messaging to consult a clinician about common conditions like acne, migraine headaches and hair loss, among other conditions. It uses third-party vendors and does not accept health insurance, instead charging a flat fee, and customers can see their medical cost before their visit.

This January, Amazon introduced RxPass for $5 per month for Prime members to get all their eligible generic prescriptions through the e-commerce giant as companies are seeking to drive down the cost of generics by removing pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) from the supply chain or manufacturing the drugs on their own.

Amazon partnerships

Amazon’s Chief Medical Officer Sunita Mishra told Yahoo Finance that the company will be flexible with its healthcare strategy and won’t go it alone.

Its acquisition of San Francisco-based One Medical last July points to Amazon just gearing up in the healthcare sector. One Medical is a membership-based primary care practice offering comprehensive care in 19 major U.S. markets and 24/7 access to virtual care. It also works with over 8,500 companies to provide One Medical health benefits to their employees. Launched in 2007, it had 836,000 members by the end of 2022.

Senior Vice President of Amazon Health Services Neil Lindsay said Amazon is on a mission to make it dramatically easier for people to find, choose, afford and engage with the services, products and professionals they need to get and stay healthy. “Coming together with One Medical is a big step on that journey,” he said in a press release announcing the acquisition. “One Medical has set the bar for what a quality, convenient and affordable primary care experience should be like. We’re inspired by their human-centered, technology-forward approach and excited to help them continue to grow and serve more patients.”

What’s next for Amazon and One Medical

Amazon is a behemoth with nearly $540 billion in revenue during the past 12 months. Healthcare has seemingly been its white whale in recent years. Is another healthcare acquisition next? Amazon’s attraction to One Medical’s human-centered, technology-forward approach could hint at further like-minded additions. Amazon was rumored to be in talks with home healthcare company Signify Health before CVS Health acquired Signify for $8 billion in March.

“Together (with One Medical), we believe we can make the healthcare experience easier, faster, more personal and more convenient for everyone,” said Amazon CEO Andy Jassy.

One Medical offers:

  • Around-the-clock access through the One Medical app.
  • On-demand virtual care services like 24/7 video chats and in-app messaging.
  • Same and next day in-office or remote visits.
  • Walk-in availability for on-site laboratory services.

One Medical memberships are separate from Prime memberships.

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