Buffett: ‘No guarantee of success’ with Haven health venture

Health, Fitness & Food

Warren Buffett says there’s no guarantee Haven, the joint health-care venture between Berkshire Hathaway, J.P. Morgan and Amazon, will succeed in improving the U.S. health-care system.

“It is going to a long, tough pull to make major changes,” Buffett said Monday in an interview with CNBC’s Becky Quick. “It has no guarantee of success at all, but there’s nobody I think that’s in a better position, in terms of number of employees, ability of the people that are partnering to get along and all kinds of things, to perhaps come up with something to make the system more efficient.”

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Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway teamed up with Jeff Bezos‘ Amazon and Jamie Dimon‘s J.P. Morgan last year to create a not-for-profit health venture aimed at cutting costs and improving services for their employees. Even without revealing many details, the announcement sent health-care stocks tumbling. The organization, now named Haven, has since hired surgeon and speaker Dr. Atul Gawande and started filling out its executive ranks.

Buffett said Haven is on the “first step on what is bound to be a very long journey,” and the co-founders are willing to spend “whatever money it takes” if the organization is making progress. He said the venture isn’t more difficult than he expected, but he expected it to be “ungodly difficult.”

“We’ll try, but nothing will happen quicker, so there is no revolutionary move or anything of the sort,” Buffett said. “And there will be lots of opposition to any change.”

Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charlie Munger in the interview said the current health-care system is “out of control.” He pointed to “utterly unnecessary” medical treatments and “ridiculous” high deductibles that leave people on the hook for sometimes thousands of dollars in medical bills despite being insured as examples.

“I would say we have a pretty disgusting system,” he said. “On the other hand, it’s the best in the world in terms of its scientific capacity.”

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