Amazon Expands Further into Health and Wants to Be Your Doctor Now

Amazon is continuing its expansion into health care, announcing on Thursday that it will acquire One Medical, a “technology-powered” combination primary care and telehealth service, for nearly $4 billion. That makes this one of Amazon’s largest acquisitions to date and indicates that the e-commerce giant is very serious about its plans for consumer-facing health care. But given growing scrutiny over Amazon’s antitrust issues, it’s unclear if the merger will make it past regulators — and some lawmakers are criticising the deal.

Amazon has been pushing into the health care space for years. It acquired PillPack, an online pharmacy, in 2018 and then launched Amazon Pharmacy in 2020. Prime members get special discounts on drugs that aren’t covered by their insurance. Amazon has been moving into diagnostics in recent years and made its own Covid test (which was recently discontinued). The company launched Amazon Care, a primary care service, in 2019 for some of its own employees before rolling it out to other companies as a workplace benefit earlier this year. Amazon has even branched out into medical devices and health wearables, and behind the scenes, it is also investing in developing technology that powers the industry.

So, in just a few short years, Amazon owns (or will own) parts of almost every aspect of the health care industry — seemingly everything except hospitals and health insurance.

Amazon’s critics weren’t thrilled with the news. Stacy Mitchell, co-executive director for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, describes the proposed acquisition as “Amazon’s latest move to extend its tentacles into health care.”

“As with its other moves in this sector, the goal is to intermediate health care delivery by becoming the middleman between patients, doctors, and insurers,” Mitchell explained. “It’s exactly what Amazon has done in other major sectors, including e-commerce, cloud services, and voice.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who has written to the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) to investigate the deal, was sure to point that out in her letter to the FTC, saying: “I also ask that the FTC consider the role of data, including as a potential barrier to entry, given that this proposed deal could result in the accumulation of highly sensitive personal health data in the hands of an already data-intensive company.”

Read more: Amazon wants to be your doctor now, too, Recode, 22 July 2022