This doctor has been emailing Jeff Bezos for years begging Amazon to get into health

Key Points
  • Josh Umbehr is on a mission to bring down the price of prescription drugs.
  • So he turned to the one man he believes that can do it: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
Jeff Bezos
Matthew Staver | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Josh Umbehr, a Kansas-based family physician and entrepreneur, is on a mission to bring down the price of health care, starting with prescription drugs.

So for years, he's been regularly emailing the one person that he believes can make a difference.

And that's Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

"Amazon could work with small pharmacies across the country to provide a huge value to Prime customers, on a regular basis (with) short delivery times, not to mention the effect it would have on competition that over charges immensely," one of Umbehr's emails to Bezos suggests.

Umbehr says he has contacted Bezos about every other week for several years, and forwarded about half-a-dozen of these emails on request.

"I love Jeff," he said. "I would s--- a brick if he ever got back to me."

While Bezos has never personally responded, Umbehr's hopes soared when an Amazon employee got back to him encouraging him to submit a business proposal.

Amazon also wrote that he would hear from the company if his ideas "contributed to Amazon's business goals."

But in January 2017, Umbehr received his most detailed response informing him that his email had been forwarded along to Amazon's business development team. "Jeff has empowered talented people on this team to work closely with and make strategic decisions about these issues," the email reads.

Amazon's push into the drug supply chain

Josh Umbehr from Atlas MD
Josh Umbehr

CNBC reported in May that Amazon was looking to hire a general manager to lead its potential push into pharmacy, a multibillion market. It also has brought on dozens of health and medical workers for a variety of health-related business units.

Some experts have speculated that Amazon could step into the space by focusing on those who opt to pay cash, rather than to use insurance. One such insider is Adam Fein, president of Pembroke Consulting, who has previously suggested that Amazon could support the growing number of people who are willing to pay out-of-pocket for cheap generic drugs.

For Umbehr, this strategy makes sense as the drug supply chain offers very little transparency into the actual cost of medicines.

When he's not emailing Amazon, Umbehr dedicates his time to his direct primary care practice, Atlas MD, which provides cash-only medical services like discounted drugs. He started the group in 2010, and has grown in to 3,000 patients who are willing to pay between $10 and $100 a month for unlimited work visits, home visits and procedures.

Amazon would potentially compete with businesses like his, but Umbehr said he wouldn't mind.

"I welcome the direct competition," he said. "We need a national health care solution to this problem."