Warren Buffett on Health Care: "There's Enormous Resistance to Change"

An industry that’s set in its ways will be a difficult one to overhaul, which is exactly what Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett will be facing as part of Haven–the joint venture to alter health care in conjunction with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon.

The goal of haven is simple: deliver quality health care at an affordable cost, but the execution of the plan is far more difficult.

“We have a $3.4 trillion industry, which is as much as the federal government raises every year, that basically feels pretty good about the system,” said Buffett. “There’s enormous resistance to change while a similar acknowledgement that change will be needed. And of course if the private sector doesn’t supply that over a period of time, people will say ‘we give up, we’ve got to turn this over to the government,’ which will probably be even worse.”

U.S. President Donald Trump has been a vocal opponent of rising health care costs, particularly when it comes to pharmaceutical companies. In 2017, health spending rose 3.9 percent and the trends is likely to persist.

“We’ve got this incredible economic machine but we shouldn’t be spending 18 percent when other countries are doing something pretty comparable in terms of doctors per capita and hospital beds per capita,” Buffett told Yahoo Finance. “We’re paying a price.”

Since launching last year, on of Haven’s first major steps was selecting famed surgeon and author Atul Gawande to lead the joint venture. Gawande’s first plans of action included meeting with companies throughout the nation to assess the difficulty in obtaining health care.

“We’ve got a wonderful partnership in the sense that it’s large and in the sense that it has reasonable market muscle with more than 1 million employees,” Buffett said. “We’ve got a unity of commitment and an ability to execute on the commitment.”

Related: 5 Ways Blockchain and AI Are Changing Business in 2019

ETF Plays to Consider

Will the overhaul of the health care system see defensive sectors overtake cyclical sectors?

For investors looking for continued upside in U.S. cyclical sectors over defensive sectors, the Direxion MSCI Cyclicals Over Defensives ETF (NYSEArca: RWCD) offers them the ability to benefit not only from cyclical sectors potentially performing well, but from their outperformance compared to defensive sectors.

Conversely, if investors believe that U.S. defensive sectors will outperform cyclical sectors, the Direxion MSCI Defensives Over Cyclicals ETF (NYSEArca: RWDC) provides a means to not only see defensive sectors perform well, but a way to capitalize on their outperformance compared to cyclical sectors.

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