The Whole Foods Alternative To Obamacare

This is a story that should have been circulated widely by Old Media. But, since it undercuts socialized medicine as envisioned by Barack Obama, they simply sat on it in the hopes that no one else would notice it. Good thing we have a blogosphere to do the job that Old Media absolutely refuses to do.

John Mackey, the co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Inc. has a nice eight-point plan for health care reform. It was published in the Wall Street Journal back on August 11, 2009. Here are the eight points:

• Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs).

• Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits.

• Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines.

• Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover.

• Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

• Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost.

• Enact Medicare reform.

• 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.

Six of these eight points are self-evident as to why we need to act on them. There are two that bear study: Tort reform and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).

Here is how Mackey describes the 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 plan’s costs are much lower than typical health insurance, while providing a very high degree of worker satisfaction.

In other words, under this plan, if you go to a doctor just for a simple annual check-up, you would pay for it directly out of your HSA thereby relieving the insurance company of the administrative burden of processing such a small claim. And 90% of health insurance claims are in the small claims area of the spectrum. This would result in massive savings for the insurance company. But, at the same time, you will be covered if anything catastrophic happens to you. Another advantage here is that once you max out your HSA at $2,500, any money that would have gone into that account now goes into your own pocket. Thus, you now have a financial incentive to live a more healthy lifestyle.

The HSAs also go hand in hand with repealing government mandates as to what should be covered. That is something that should be left entirely up to the customer.

Tort reform is an essential part of health care reform as well. The problem here (and one that Barack Obama is deliberately ignoring) is that you have lawyers like John Edwards who seek to get rich quick off of medical lawsuits. Those lawsuits produce a great deal of fall-out that we (those who pay insurance premiums) ultimately pay for. All of those court costs get passed on to us in the form of higher premiums. (In fact, many women in the Carolinas were no longer able to afford OB-GYN care because the Edwards lawsuit drove OB-GYN insurance premiums higher than they could afford to pay.) But John Edwards and his ilk don’t care that we have to pay higher prices so long as they themselves are able to get rich off of us. Also, doctors tend to do more tests than are necessary in an effort to stave off potential lawsuits. Those tests are then charged to insurance claims thereby driving costs even higher.

Included in tort reform should be a “loser pays” provision so that when frivolous lawsuits are brought against insurance companies, those costs don’t get passed on to consumers.

I like this plan very much and will be writing letters to all my Congressional Reps asking them to support it. I suggest you do the same.

You can access the complete article on-line here:

The Whole Foods Alternative To ObamaCare
John Mackey
Wall Street Journal
August 11, 2009

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6 Responses

  1. Back in 2008, this Whole Foods, CEO John Mackey (how old is this kid?), was caught posting negative comments (trash talk) about a competitor on Yahoo Finance message boards in an effort to push down the stock price. So now I am suppose to take this loser seriously? Please, snore, snore.

    It’s funny we hear Republicans say that they do not want “faceless bureaucrats” making medical decisions but they have no problem with “private sector” “faceless bureaucrats” daily declining medical coverage and financially ruining good hard working people (honestly where can they go with a pre-condition). And who says that the “private sector” is always right, do we forget failures like Long-Term Capital, WorldCom, Global Crossing, Enron, Tyco, AIG and Lehman Brothers. Of course the federal government will destroy heathcare by getting involved, Oh but wait, Medicare and Medicaid and our military men and women and the Senate and Congress get the best heathcare in the world, and oh, that’s right, its run by our federal government. I can understand why some may think that the federal government will fail, if you look at the past eight years as a current history, with failures like the financial meltdown and Katrina but the facts is they can and if we support them they will succeed.

    How does shouting down to stop the conversation of the healthcare debate at town hall meetings, endears them to anyone. Especially when the organizations that are telling them where to go and what to do and say are Republicans political operatives, not real grassroots. How does shouting someone down or chasing them out like a “lynch mob” advanced the debate, it does not. So I think the American people will see through all of this and know, like the teabagger, the birthers, these lynch mobs types AKA “screamers” are just the same, people who have to resort to these tactics because they have no leadership to articulate what they real want. It’s easy to pickup a bus load of people who hate, and that’s all I been seeing, they hate and can’t debate. Too bad.

    • Paul,

      Thank you for taking the tme to read my blog.

      I have to say this: you are wrong, about a great many things you wrote about.

      First, having served in the Marine Corps for 13 years, I can assure you from personal experience that the military does not get the best care available. They get what is budgeted to them, just as under ObamaCare you would only get what is budgeted (i.e. rationed) to you.

      Second, Medicaid and Medicare are going bankrupt. Despite the fact that their budgets are getting larger, the amount and quality of care they provide is going down. Yes, it is run by the Federal Government.

      Third, those who are showing up to Town Hall Meetings to express opposition are NOT be bussed in. It is the supporters of Obamacare who are being bussed in by ACORN, SEIU and the Democrats.

      I appreaciate you reading my blog, but you really should check your facts before posting.

      84rules

  2. I like the general outlines of this plan.
    They make sense.

    One thing I don’t like about this and other high deductible plans is that a record is kept at the insurance company of how you spend the money up to the deductibe. Why? As long as you don’t spend the money on a catastrophic event, why record the other minor medical spending?

    Why can’t we just purchase a truly catastrophic policy that only covers major medical events such as cancer and other serious diseases, major accidents, etc.

    That way, the insurance industry is out of our personal day to day affairs all together. They are only notified in the event of a catastrophic medical event.

    These policies would be cheaper for consumers and people would be more price conscious about all the other medical puchases they make … so medical care prices would be more competitive and go down.

    And, you wouldn’t have a record out there of every time you sought medical care or advice on minor matters.

    • Just an observation. I’m covered under my wife’s insurance policy and I had to have some standard blood work (liver function as a check on some medication I’m on). It was misfiled and I was charged $427. I called the lab and had them resubmit it correctly. Insurance covered it, the lab was reimbursed for less than $50. So what’s the true cost? It’s hard to spend your health care dollars wisely when you don’t know the cost of a procedure. And, what would I have been charged under your hypothetical non- catastrophic scenario?

      • Matt,

        Thanks for reading my blog and asking your question. Here is my answer:

        One of the points of this plan is: “Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost.” Thus, under this plan, you would be able to see the difference between a $427 fee and one that was less than $50.

        I suspect that with enforced transparency, your cost out-of-pocket under this plan would have been the less than $50 that the lab got reimbursed for.

  3. […] Continue reading here: The Whole Foods Alternative To Obamacare « 84RULES […]

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