The online retailer trials new Amazon Care package, accessible only for those enrolled in Amazon’s internal health insurance, for Seattle-based staff.

US-based online retail giant Amazon is aiming to shake up traditional insurance models by providing its Seattle-based employees with in-house insurance and access to health benefits.

The new Amazon Care package, which is accessible via an app, enables eligible staff and their family members to text a qualified nurse for immediate advice, have a video consultation with a doctor or nurse for diagnoses, treatment or referrals and receive prescribed medication deliveries to their home or office.

Employees and family members can also request a mobile care nurse to be dispatched to their home or office, for face-to-face exams, testing or treatments.

Access to insurance

However, to access this array of on-demand health services, employees have to be enrolled in an in-house Amazon health insurance plan; those who already have a policy with healthcare business Kaiser Permanente, offered through Amazon, will not qualify.

Amazon Care, provided in conjunction with Oasis Medical, is currently being piloted by Amazon employees over the age of 18 who work out of the organisation’s operating site in Seattle; employees’ spouses, partners and dependents can also apply.

Impacting the industry?

Ben Carey-Evans, insurance analyst at GlobalData, said: “Moving medical insurance services in-house provides companies with more control over what they offer employees, allowing them to tailor packages specifically to their workforce’s needs.

“[Offering in-house insurance benefits] should also allow [Amazon] to reduce costs by cutting out the middle man.

“The fact that so many large corporations are experimenting with this approach suggests it is an emerging theme, and one that must be concerning for health insurers and employee benefits providers.”

A spokesperson at Amazon added: ”Amazon is currently piloting a healthcare benefit designed to help Amazon employees get fast access to healthcare without an appointment, at the convenience of their schedules, at their preferred location (home, office, or virtual).

”Amazon Care eliminates travel and wait time, connecting employees and their family members to a physician or nurse practitioner through live chat or video, with the option for in-person follow up services from a registered nurse ranging from immunizations to instant strep throat detection.”