What Happens When Health Care Becomes a Stock Market Play?

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Vancouver company Well Health Technologies Corp. was growing rapidly and had ambitious expansion plans.


Some investors saw an opportunity. But other people saw a threat to public health care.

Andrew MacLeod 9 Sep 2020 | TheTyee.ca
Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria and the author of All Together Healthy (Douglas & McIntyre, 2018). Find him on Twitter or reach him at amacleod@thetyee.ca

Well [Health Technologies Corp.] had, over a couple of years, acquired 21 primary care clinics in B.C., become the electronic medical record provider to another 1,446 clinics across Canada and dedicated a significant marketing budget to promoting its services. Well is something new, a Canadian company focused on providing direct health-care services and traded on the stock market. Investors have been enthusiastic, bidding up Well’s stock price. Shares that were worth 25 cents a little more than two years ago had risen to about $2 by early this year. The COVID-19 pandemic brought more interest, and shares topped $6 by Sept. 1.

By September, Well was worth about $790 million and looked set to keep growing.
But what may be good for investors is likely going to be bad for patients, said Marcy Cohen, a community researcher who has worked on issues around primary care and community care for two decades. “They’re obviously trying different strategies about how and where the profit possibilities are,” Cohen said. “Because they’re a corporation, their responsibility is to their shareholders. They are looking at health care as a revenue generating opportunity, so they’re looking and experimenting with all the different ways they might be able to make a profit out of health care.”)

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