Skip to comments.The Whole Foods approach to health care reform (a rational, workable alternative to Obamacare)
Posted on 08/16/2009 6:11:22 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, has an excellent op-ed in todays Wall Street Journal outlining his vision for a plan to reform American health care.
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 directiontoward 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 and wellness.
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 plans costs are much lower than typical health insurance, while providing a very high degree of worker satisfaction.
Equalize the tax laws so that 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 portable.
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 special-interest lobbying.
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 doctors 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 arent covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Childrens Health Insurance Program.
Mackeys reform proposals are of the type we should like to see from our legislators. They do not fall into the category of reforms that look good while doing nothing, or reforms that are tailored to special interest groups at the expense of patients.
These reforms are real, cost-lowering and patient-protecting ones that would put America on track for expanding coverage, improving care and lowering health care expenditures. Legislators should take notice.
John Mackey also talked about Whole Foods high deductible health insurance plan and its advantages with John Stossel in the 2007 20/20 special, Sick in America:
(CLICK ABOVE LINK TO WATCH )
You cannot fight something we nothing. You cannot just criticize without proposing something concrete.
The proposals given by the CEO of Whole Foods is a good start. If you disagree with some of his proposals, I'd like to hear your alternatives.
Ideally, we should keep this proposal within 100 pages so that people can read and understand it ( instead of the thousand page monstrosity being rammed down our throats by Congress ).
Some of what he says is smart but Whole Foods is liberal, over-priced and marginally good so, I’ll take what he says with a grain of salt.
This is, by far, the best laid out plan I have yet seen.
Any chance of this going through? Only in my dreams. OK, now back to the real world. Sigh....
Ideally, we’ll shop at Whole Foods, eat a veggie-based diet, cut down on animal fats, take healthy supplements, exercise daily and NOT NEED much health insurance. Absolutely works for me. And I’m well over 65. Pun intended.
My brother and I were talking about this kind of a plan tonight. I have heard of similar plans.
Not much of what he has proposed is new. Every item from high deductible policies to interstate insurance competition to tort reform has been proposed in the past.
And it has gone nowhere.
I don’t propose to have an answer why, but it might be that it is asking politicians on all levels to give up some control and power.
But, I should add that I like most of what he is saying.
Close the border, keep it closed, deport illegals and pass tort reform legislation.
Not a cure for spiraling costs but it’s a start.
Most of the '47 million uninsured' seem to show up at Grady, either at the ER or one of their free clinics. His suggestion was to fully fund the clinics and just let them provide health care to the indigent and working poor. They're doing it already anyway, but the cost is being passed on to paying customers, insurance companies, and the local taxpayers.
Anybody see a problem with this? Portable policies and HSAs for most folks, and public clinics for the people who can't afford that.
These are the types of measures that make sense and one would expect the Republicrats in Congress would be focusing on implementing instead of the Marxist nationalization of the medical industry being perpetrated by the red sons of bitches in power.
You may be interested in the point number one of the article.
In my area, Whole Foods is called “Whole Paycheck”.
I didn’t see where he said anything about whole foods in the article. They sounded like good ideas to me.
Bring back the pre-1986 medical deductions where we were allowed to deduct ALL medical expenses, not just the ones over a certain percentage of a persons/family’s gross (or net). As it stands, unless there has been a serious medical condition that year, no one can take advantage of that deduction.
If the deduction were reinstated, people would be more likely to pay for medical services, knowing at least that it would be deductible.
Yes: he’s MARKETING to stuck-up libs, giving them what they expect/want, AND making money off of it. Sounds like a capitalist to ME. . .
He may very well be a Leftist, but each of his points are valid, with the possible exception of Medicare reform, as that one is vague.
If each of the others were inacted, our health care ‘problem’ would vanish.
Besides FDA and possibly the VA - get the Feds out of health-care completely, including Medicaid/Medicare and removing any tax benefits or penalties for corporate programs, self-insurance, etc..
In a transition period, turn over Fed Money for medicaid/medicare to the States on gradually declining basis over 5 years. Then let individual States decide if they want to raise taxes to maintain similar programs, and have more activist or less activist health-care programs. It would remove the most massive layer of bureaucracy (the Feds), reduce costs, and most important - provide a laboratory of best practices in 50 different states. Speed, adaptability and flexibility to change would also increase.
A good idea can come from someone running a liberal company. For example Apple is a liberal company but they make excellent products which many Freepers use so why should the CEO’s politics matter here. We must not discredit an idea completely just based on who it comes from. These 8 points I think are all free market common sense approaches which no conservative can disagree with on their merit. This is a superb article and anyone who espouses these beliefs deserves our support.
If Medicare and Medicaid aren't addressed, then it'll be very difficult to enact other forms of healthcare reform.
Mr. Mackey's proposals are excellent for those who are uninsured and/or young adults, and I have no disagreement with it.
Here's my proposals:
Medicare and Medicaid, along with Social Security and the Department of Veteran Affairs, should be consolidated into a single federal administration. We owe it to our military veterans, seniors, and those with real disabilities or rare illnesses (such as ESRD) to provide them access to quality healthcare.
With the federal government taking away the half that states are responsible for on Medicaid, the federal government can return education, housing, road funding, law enforcement, labor laws, etc back to the states where it belongs.
This new administration, its customer service functions should be completely privatized, just like call centers and insurance companies do the processing for the Medicare Part D plan now. The federal gov't should only be responsible for verification and for disbursement of funds - that's it.
Those on the new administration would receive a healthcare debit card with a yearly preset allotment on it. That means physicians would get paid on the spot, vastly reducing bureaucracy and paperwork costs.
I've given thought to this concept as well. The problem, IMO, is that this could be a "foot in the door" and would later lead to a more expanded system. I'd rather see charitable hospitals be more like St. Jude's, where they are funded strictly by charitable dollars. The people of this country are very generous. It's possible to do it.
I also think a major point that's been largely lost, comes up in this article - tort reform. I would like to see some law go into effect that one MUST file a lawsuit in the county in which the actual offense took place. In these parts, class action lawsuits are filed mostly in a specific county in order to draw a favorable jury. The same thing happens in lawsuits against physicians. This shouldn't be allowed. Just one of many things that need "reform" in the tort system.
States don't pay anything for Medicare. Only Medicaid is a joint federal and state cooperative.
I would rather have the feds take over Medicaid completely and combine it SS, Medicare, and Veterans Affairs, consolidate it, privatize it (except for the verification and funds procurement of it), and give those who are on it some type of healthcare debit card.
In exchange for the feds doing this, states can take care of education, housing, highway funding, labor laws so the feds can get rid of these departments.
This new administration would strictly be for:
- Seniors 65 and older (in which they can join voluntary or they can use it as any type of plan that fits their needs)
- Those who are disabled (I'm talking real disabilites here, not paraplegic gang-bangers or "low-income" folks who scam Medicaid)
- Retired military veterans
I prefer Whole Foods’ free market approach to Walmart’s “take what the government will give us” plan.
A few days ago Obama told a town hall meeting that Doctors don’t give adequate preventive care because while they make a “mere pittance” by providing preventive care, neglect a diabetic until she needs her foot amputated and the Doctor makes $30,000 or $50,000! Actually, Medicare reimburses about $750 to the Doctor for a foot amputation.
Not only does this prove he’s ignorant about the cost structure of the industry he’s set on meddling with, But it shows a general contempt for the back bone of the health care profession — Doctors. The way he talks about them you would think he thought that they were Lawyers... (and as slimy as he is (being a Lawyer himself)).
I had this kind of plan for awhile at a former employer, it was absolutely fabulous. I’m not sure how much the company was paying but it was an excellent plan, excellent coverage, with your HSA dollars you can even buy ASPIRIN (or Tylenol or whatever, as long as it has a medical purpose).
My understanding of page 167 of HB 3200 is that HSA/HDHP’s will no longer be allowed, the 76% minimum coverage in some cases would not be met when there is a coverage “donut hole” between approximately $1,000 and $3,000 or whatever the deductible is.
Several Republicans tell me I’m correct. All the Democrats I’ve contacted including my Senator Bennet (D-CO) seem ignorant and clueless and incapable of understanding the problem with the 3200 formulation.
Dick Armey was basically calling for the same stuff on NBC this morning.
John Mackey needs to be on any committee looking into health care reform...
Would this include the chronically and catastrophically ill such as those with neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis and those with ALS? There are other diseases that cause disability, but I'm talking about the NASTY ones that make working impossible.
Seems to me I remember as a child that most cities had a “charity” hospital. I don’t think it was entirely free, but cost was sliding scale. One of the problems I think now days is abuse of the system (since there is no longer any shame attached to being on welfare).
Nursing homes and hospitals are given a full check by the State about once a year. Since the State doesn't have money to be truly random about the check, most facilities know inspection teams will arrive about a year after the last check.
During that inspection "wait time" everything will be up to snuff. Nothings left in hallways, staff is up to where it's suppose to be, meals offered are the ones listed on the menus etc. Then the inspectors come - and when they leave everything goes back to how it was...
Here's a better cheaper way. Nursing home studies have shown that abuse is more liking when short staffing is going on. In most facilities there's an incentive to short staff: an employee calls in sick and it's cheaper to double up than to hire a pool nurse and pay two to three times as much. ( The incentive is the administrator's bonus is based on keeping cost down). The solution is to stop annual inspections of Hospitals and Nursing homes and have random spot checks done instead. Then tie medicare and Medicaid reimbursement to the "score" of the random check.
In the nursing home case above - the employee calls in sick - the director of nursing knows if the spot check happens when there's short staffing going on, that she'll lose her bonus because the facility will be paid less for all their patients. So she hires the pool nurse, which lowers the chance of abuse, which lowers the chance of being sued, which lowers the cost of care - WHILE making care better. And lowers the cost to the State because rather than coming in with big inspection teams, they come in with 2 people and check 8 random things on a list ( the facility never knows which 8 out of 150 checked items they'll be graded on...
My insurance man tells me that there are many millions of people who work for companies too small to provide health insurance at jobs that don’t pay them enough to purchase their own health coverage. These people are NOT illegals.
I’d like to see health insurance cover prevention. This would include vitamins, gym membership, certain types of acupuncture. Humana in South Florida covers everything for senior citizens including their gym membership and $25 per month for certain supplements (from their online pharmacy). Humana can do that in SoFL because they have so millions of members. I think it’s a terrific plan. Sadly, it’s not portable, and in other areas where Humana is available, it does not cover very much at all.
Great proposals. Because they are coming from a liberal, these ideas are even better.
I would change the one proposal on the donation on the tax form. The organization dispensing the medical treatment for those without coverage should be done by the Immigration people.
Why can’t the Democrats nominate someone rational like this guy.
You are correct, sir, it is a good start and we all should look at ti and support the CEO and whole foods since the Ci-cago mob has targeted them.
The amusing result of this is that some lefties are trying to organize a boycott of Whole Foods, because the CEO proposed an alternative to Obamacare. So we righties need to patronize these stores, just don’t buy the organic veggies.
This is excellent! It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for.
This gentleman makes more sense than anyone else I have heard on the topic.
and we could all live to be 120 years old -- or at lest it would seem like it. ;~))
Re: “Yes: hes MARKETING to stuck-up libs, giving them what they expect/want, AND making money off of it. Sounds like a capitalist to ME”
Agree — I mentioned the Mackey/Whole Foods ‘fix’ to some Obama-fan lib acquaintances and they looked like they were going to faint. They LOVE Whole Foods and shop there often. Wonder if they will continue to do so now that Mackey has voiced displeasure with the Zero ‘plans.’
Speaking disparagingly about the aged should be a hate crime.
Great ideas. I thank Mr. Mackey.
If I liked Whole Foods, I’d go there to support him.
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