COVID VaccinesReturn to WorkMental Health

In the Land of Business, Health Care Is Everywhere

June 7, 2017, 1:30 PM UTC

Good morning, Dailies. Today we release the 63rd iteration of the famed Fortune 500—our annual roster of America’s biggest companies. (Go ahead: Click away and make our Web servers do an honest day’s work.)

No. 1 on the list is…(right here, at your fingertips). Okay, I know—You’re above such ruses. So I’ll let it be.

I will say this, however: Whomever the No. 1, 2, and 3 companies on the Fortune 500 might be, seeing the 2017 cast ensemble—in all their naked $12 trillion-in-revenue glory—it’s hard not to notice one thing: There’s a whole lot of health-related selling going on.

Insurer United Health Group, CVS Health, and McKesson, the enormous wholesaler/distributor of medicines, are each in the top 10. (Fortune’s Erika Fry has written a knock-your-socks-off feature on McKesson in the issue, so you may want to run out to your local newsstand and pick up a mag.)

CVS Health, the smallest of that trio with $178 billion in revenue last year, still racked up more dollars at the register than General Motors did. And as much as CVS hawks Altoids and two-for-one Lindt truffles at the checkout, the lion’s share of its revenues (as much as $96 billion in 2016, according to the Drug Channels Institute) comes from its retail chain and specialty (mail-order) pharmacies.

Then there are companies like General Electric, which we don’t categorize as health companies, but kinda sorta are. GE’s medical systems business (diagnostic imaging and more) is that conglomerate’s second-largest segment—and were it a standalone firm, its more than $18 billion in 2016 sales would land it on the Fortune 500. The same goes for our No. 1 entry, which does a fair amount of script-filling ($21 billion worth, in fact).

The industry of health is everywhere in the 500, from Alphabet’s Verily to IBM’s Watson. Which, on the whole, is a good thing, I think. Because some of these companies may actually figure out how to make healthcare work.

Want a bonus essay this morning? Here’s a link to my Editor’s letter for the Fortune 500.)

This essay appears in today’s edition of the Fortune Brainstorm Health Daily. Get it delivered straight to your inbox.