Subject: The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare
Date: Thu, 13 Aug 2009 15:59:57 -0500
From: Travis <firstname.lastname@example.org>
* AUGUST 11, 2009, 7:30 P.M. ET
The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare
Eight things we can do to improve health care without adding to the deficit.
By JOHN MACKEY
"The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out
of other people's money."
With a projected $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009, several trillions more
in deficits projected over the next decade, and with both Medicare and
Social Security entitlement spending about to ratchet up several notches
over the next 15 years as Baby Boomers become eligible for both, we are
rapidly running out of other people's money. These deficits are simply
not sustainable. They are either going to result in unprecedented new
taxes and inflation, or they will bankrupt us.
While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country
needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds
of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer
to a government takeover of our health-care system. Instead, we should
be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction—toward
less government control and more individual empowerment. Here are eight
reforms that would greatly lower the cost of health care for everyone:
• Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible
health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs). The
combination of high-deductible health insurance and HSAs is one solution
that could solve many of our health-care problems. For example, Whole
Foods Market pays 100% of the premiums for all our team members who work
30 hours or more per week (about 89% of all team members) for our
high-deductible health-insurance plan. We also provide up to $1,800 per
year in additional health-care dollars through deposits into employees'
Personal Wellness Accounts to spend as they choose on their own health
Money not spent in one year rolls over to the next and grows over time.
Our team members therefore spend their own health-care dollars until the
annual deductible is covered (about $2,500) and the insurance plan kicks
in. This creates incentives to spend the first $2,500 more carefully.
Our plan's costs are much lower than typical health insurance, while
providing a very high degree of worker satisfaction.
• Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and
individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. Now
employer health insurance benefits are fully tax deductible, but
individual health insurance is not. This is unfair.
• Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing
across state lines. We should all have the legal right to purchase
health insurance from any insurance company in any state and we should
be able use that insurance wherever we live. Health insurance should be
• Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must
cover. These mandates have increased the cost of health insurance by
billions of dollars. What is insured and what is not insured should be
determined by individual customer preferences and not through
• Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to
pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. These
costs are passed back to us through much higher prices for health care.
• Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care
treatments cost. How many people know the total cost of their last
doctor's visit and how that total breaks down? What other goods or
services do we buy without knowing how much they will cost us?
• Enact Medicare reform. We need to face up to the actuarial fact that
Medicare is heading towards bankruptcy and enact reforms that create
greater patient empowerment, choice and responsibility.
• Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a
voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who
have no insurance and aren't covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State
Children's Health Insurance Program.
Many promoters of health-care reform believe that people have an
intrinsic ethical right to health care—to equal access to doctors,
medicines and hospitals. While all of us empathize with those who are
sick, how can we say that all people have more of an intrinsic right to
health care than they have to food or shelter?
Health care is a service that we all need, but just like food and
shelter it is best provided through voluntary and mutually beneficial
market exchanges. A careful reading of both the Declaration of
Independence and the Constitution will not reveal any intrinsic right to
health care, food or shelter. That's because there isn't any. This
"right" has never existed in America
Even in countries like Canada and the U.K., there is no intrinsic right
to health care. Rather, citizens in these countries are told by
government bureaucrats what health-care treatments they are eligible to
receive and when they can receive them. All countries with socialized
medicine ration health care by forcing their citizens to wait in lines
to receive scarce treatments.
Although Canada has a population smaller than California, 830,000
Canadians are currently waiting to be admitted to a hospital or to get
treatment, according to a report last month in Investor's Business
Daily. In England, the waiting list is 1.8 million.
At Whole Foods we allow our team members to vote on what benefits they
most want the company to fund. Our Canadian and British employees
express their benefit preferences very clearly—they want supplemental
health-care dollars that they can control and spend themselves without
permission from their governments. Why would they want such additional
health-care benefit dollars if they already have an "intrinsic right to
health care"? The answer is clear—no such right truly exists in either
Canada or the U.K.—or in any other country.
Rather than increase government spending and control, we need to address
the root causes of poor health. This begins with the realization that
every American adult is responsible for his or her own health.
Unfortunately many of our health-care problems are self-inflicted:
two-thirds of Americans are now overweight and one-third are obese. Most
of the diseases that kill us and account for about 70% of all
health-care spending—heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and
obesity—are mostly preventable through proper diet, exercise, not
smoking, minimal alcohol consumption and other healthy lifestyle choices.
Recent scientific and medical evidence shows that a diet consisting of
foods that are plant-based, nutrient dense and low-fat will help prevent
and often reverse most degenerative diseases that kill us and are
expensive to treat. We should be able to live largely disease-free lives
until we are well into our 90s and even past 100 years of age.
Health-care reform is very important. Whatever reforms are enacted it is
essential that they be financially responsible, and that we have the
freedom to choose doctors and the health-care services that best suit
our own unique set of lifestyle choices. We are all responsible for our
own lives and our own health. We should take that responsibility very
seriously and use our freedom to make wise lifestyle choices that will
protect our health. Doing so will enrich our lives and will help create
a vibrant and sustainable American society.
Mr. Mackey is co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market Inc.
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google
Groups "Politics & Current Events" group.
To post to this group, send email to
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
For more options, visit this group at