Culture

Amazon is expanding its healthcare services to other companies

Perhaps one day we'll be able to get a 3D printed replacement kidney via Prime.

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Amazon Care, Amazon's health program which originally launched in 2019, is undergoing an expansion. According to a post by Amazon staff, Amazon Care will now reach other companies beyond the online retailer, as well as Amazon workers beyond the state of Washington, where the pilot program has been run.

Previously, Amazon Care was only available to the company's own workforce, and only to those based in Seattle. But now, by expanding this program, Amazon employees based out of the state and enrolled in an Amazon-sponsored Aetna or Premera program will be able to access health options like receiving in-person care, video-based checkups, physical examinations, and other medical services. The company plans to expand its health program to other firms this summer. It also says that once it is safe for in-person business to resume, Amazon Care will open in-person facilities in Washington D.C. and Baltimore.

That could mean employees of non-Amazon companies could soon get healthcare services from it, whether they want to or not.

“Amazon Care enables employers to provide access to high quality medical care within 60 seconds for employees, including options for care around the clock through messaging or video,” the blog post reads. “Amazon Care gives instant access to a range of urgent and primary care services, including COVID-19 and flu testing, vaccinations, treatment of illnesses and injuries, preventive care, sexual health, prescription requests, refills, and delivery, and much more.”

What you should know — Amazon Care will also help workers based outside of Washington to access preventative care such as yearly vaccinations, lifestyle guidance on nutrition, screenings, reproductive care such as pre-pregnancy planning, a program that can help workers quit smoking, and treatment for injuries.

Amazon's decision to expand its health program comes after major tension between the company’s management and its warehouse labor force. In April, the company fired two workers who slammed Amazon for its precarious COVID-19 working conditions, complaining that safety protocols were insufficient.

In May, Amazon's former vice president Tim Bray resigned from his post after calling the company "chickenshit" for how it treated workers who were protesting against weak protections. In October, Amazon admitted that at least 19,816 of its fulfillment center and Whole Foods workers contracted COVID-19, eight of whom died.

Amazon’s business has boomed during the pandemic. Getting into healthcare could help it generate even more revenue while also getting a foothold in a new sector it’s been eyeing for ages.