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Author: Subject: The Whole Foods Alternative - And The Left's Response

Maximum Peach





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  posted on 8/20/2009 at 09:40 PM
Below is a thoughful article from the co-founder of Whole Foods about health care reform. Here's a guy who knows the subject, as his business buys health care for thousands of workers. Here's the problem: his solutions are market-based ideas and some govt reform of existing laws - not a govt takeover.

The left is having a tizzy over this column. They plan boycots of his stores because of what he wrote. Here's a guy who's found solutions that he and his workers are satisfied with, that doesn't depend on govt and the tax dollars of their fellow citizens, but that isn't good enough. He's evil and must be stopped.

I don't know who's sicker: those idiots showing up with armed at these public events, or the morons who deem that someone who's built a business employing thousands AND paying their health care are the enemy. You decide....

quote:
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."

—Margaret Thatcher





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 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.

• 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 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 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.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204251404574342170072865070.h tml


 

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Maximum Peach



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  posted on 8/20/2009 at 10:25 PM
quote:
I boycott Whole Foods because they are too expensive. If I could get my wife to go along with that, I could save a bundle.
I'm with you Otie - but maybe that's why they can afford to pay for health care for their workers.

 

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Obamacare: To insure the uninsured, we first make the insured

uninsured and then make them pay more to be insured again,

so the original uninsured can be insured for free.

 

True Peach



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  posted on 8/20/2009 at 10:36 PM
Indeed, Mr Mackey must be stopped. We cannot have the opposition making well-reasoned and principled arguments. Ultimately, the liberals' allies in this may well be the gun-toting, Hitler-referencing, town hall shouter-downers. They make us look good!


 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 8/20/2009 at 10:43 PM
quote:
Indeed, Mr Mackey must be stopped. We cannot have the opposition making well-reasoned and principled arguments.


Indeed it was. He makes a good case.

 

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A Peach Supreme



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  posted on 8/21/2009 at 12:13 AM
Just because one fair minded employer does the right thing doesn't mean the other 99.999% will. That's why there needs to be govt regulations.
 

Ultimate Peach



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  posted on 8/21/2009 at 03:58 AM
To many on the Left have been sucked into the theory that ONLY "Big Government" can solve problems. Do these people really want a "nanny state"? Kudos, to Whole Foods for coming up with a HealthCare Plan that not only works from a business side of fence, but also seems to be one that works for it's employees. Of course, you would never find anyone in Congress in charge of writing a HealthCare Reform package, actually talking to businesses such as Whole Foods and learning how their plan works and how to impliment such plans on a national scale.

[Edited on 8/21/2009 by sibwlkr]

 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 8/21/2009 at 08:11 AM
Political calls for consumer boycotts are stupid, IMO.

 

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  posted on 8/21/2009 at 08:43 AM
Whole Foods is the Home Depot and Microsoft of the natural and organic food industry. Prior to Whole Foods domination of the industry small farmers and producers could compete for market share. With the arrival of Whole Foods in some cities small organic food venders and fish mongers have been forced to close shop. One needs to remember that Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations warned against the dangers of monopolization. Monopoly capitalism reduces competition and brings inefficiency to the market.

One can only imagine where we would be technology wise had there been alternatives to Windows and Microsoft Office. With its huge capital chest Microsoft simply chewed up revolutionary software by buying small start-ups and then discarding their inventions. If you are a producer of organic or natural products today and what you produce competes directly with one of Whole Foods’ products your enterprise will likely fail.

John Mackey is a monopoly capitalist. He is the promoter of an America where if you need a screw driver you go to Home Depot or now Lowe’s, a free range chicken you go to Whole Foods or for developmental software packages you go to Microsoft.

The hidden story in health care reform is how Google and Microsoft are vying for the market to control and profit from personal medical record software. The market for this in advertising dollars from pharmaceuticals is colossal and would be enough to subsidize health care reform for all Americans. The monopolists do not want any competition for this market. But as they siphon huge profits from health care promotions will any of these massive profits be redirected to health coverage? Very unlikely.

Mackey tells a nice story but Whole Foods is not representative of where a real America would be if it had a real capitalist economy without corporate welfare handouts, special favors for lobbyists and sweet heart deals for monopolists.

Rush Limbaugh is the number one voice for monopolistic capitalism. And why not? Rush Limbaugh is a monopolist. He controls the world of conservative ideas just like Whole Foods controls the natural food industry and Microsoft controls operating systems. It is this unfettered support for monopolists, corporate welfare and special market access that have zapped the ingenuity out of American capitalism. The current government deficits were run up by republicans and supported by conservatives.

We need to get the issues back on track. The real distractions are the conservative pigeons who seem to have endless amounts of energy in propagating propaganda about the evils of liberal government. We need to look at who is controlling the economy and who ran up the deficits. We need to examine how a few individuals like Mackey and Limbaugh want America to be a country of a few voices and few ideas. But conservatives do not want these issues examined, hence the hysteria they are promoting.

 

True Peach



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  posted on 8/21/2009 at 09:16 AM
The Whole Foods model of covering 100% premium costs and kicking in nearly $2k more per employee to their HSA's is a pipe dream for most smaller companies, many of which are already struggling to turn a profit. For example our company, like many, offers a choice of plans that employees can chose from (i.e. higher-deductable/lower-premium or lower-deductable/higher-premium) and HSA's (which are great). No way could we afford to cover 100% of the premiums even for just the higher-deductable/lower-premium plan, and we've had to shift more and more of the cost to employees (HSA's have always been 100% employee-funded) and our customers (price increases) as the health plan costs have gone up at a pace that depending on the year had been equal to 5 to 10 times the rate of inflation. Without change that gets the sprialing costs under control, the day is coming when healthcare will no longer be a benefit that our company can afford to offer.

So kudos to Whole Foods for taking care of their employees (and to their customers who apparantly don't mind paying for it in the form of higher prices). Mr. Mackey offers up some ideas that are certainly worthy of discussion. But to expect all businesses to bear the entire burden for healthcare insurance is a recipe for economic disaster.

[Edited on 8/21/2009 by gondicar]

 

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True Peach



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  posted on 8/21/2009 at 09:49 AM
I had no idea that Whole Foods WAS NOT a "left-wing" operation until reading this article.

They stock more earth-friendly goods, including soaps, clothing, food etc. than any other grocer that I've ever seen. I was in there the other night and thought I'd entered some sort of Woodstock era nation.

Keeping with the current "Green Movement", most all of the produce is grown locally or regionally. I can't actually tell if their prices are any higher than Winn Dixie, Publix or any other of those CORPORATE chains. CORPORATE - the word that drives so many of y'all up the wall!

I will vouch that their produce is much fresher and of better quality than the other chains. Recently, I bought some squash for a casserole at a corporate chain. When I got home, I was scolded for even buying it. That batch of squash went onto our compost pile and I went to Whole Foods to pick up a pristine batch of new squash.

This whole health care reform thing - I think it's just gotten to the point where either side (Dem/POL) are just fighting over it. You hear so many "talking points" from both sides - I just don't know who to believe about any of it. I think the politicians (both sides) are more interested in slamming the other side than they are about any REAL and meaningful reform. There's probably equal amounts of truths and lies coming from both sides.

 

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True Peach



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  posted on 8/21/2009 at 10:12 AM
quote:
Keeping with the current "Green Movement", most all of the produce is grown locally or regionally. I can't actually tell if their prices are any higher than Winn Dixie, Publix or any other of those CORPORATE chains. CORPORATE - the word that drives so many of y'all up the wall!



Personally I don't know if that word itself drives anyone up the wall, but just to be clear Whole Foods is a publically traded ($4.02B market cap) corporate chain, covering 39 states as well as the UK and Canada.

 

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True Peach



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  posted on 8/21/2009 at 10:13 AM
quote:
No one is actually boycotting Whole Foods.


http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/booster_shots/2009/08/does-the-whole-foods- boycott-stand-a-chance.html

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 8/21/2009 at 11:29 AM
Whole Foods $4 each tomatoes is what keeps me away from there. We are headed to the Farmer's Market in the morning...buy local!!!!!!

 

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  posted on 8/21/2009 at 11:47 AM
interesting points, many vailid

under Mr Mackey's plan, what happens if you lose your job?

 

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  posted on 8/21/2009 at 11:53 AM
The mind of the liberal, who now b*tches about a successful chain of stores that adheres to providing fresh,free range and organic whole foods. Number one, there are plenty of farmer's markets here that offer a locally-grown alternative. What;s the problem? I don't get my ramps from Whole Foods.

As if psuedo-intellectual urban liberals who think food grows in cellophane, who wouldn't understand nature if it bit them in the ass, actually understands or gives a damn about farmers to begin with. Please! I'd pay money to see them wring a free range chicken's neck.

[Edited on 8/21/2009 by DerekFromCincinnati]

 

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  posted on 8/21/2009 at 11:53 AM
quote:
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


AMEN to that. I believe I have a moral obligation to help those in need, but I don't believe the government has the right to force me to do it.

quote:
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.


If life, auto and property insurers are allowed to rate and even disqualify high risk insureds, why can't health insurance providers do the same? Why should I, a healthy, non smoker of average weight pay the same premium as the overweight smoker who binge drinks and hasn't exercised since gym class in 6th grade? Put some more personal accountability into the system. Deny coverage for smokers, refuse to pay for diabetes drugs for those who don't control their weight, charge higher premiums for those that don't exercise.

Some HMOs offer credit for people that do cardio exercise regularly, let's expand on things like this.

[Edited on 8/21/2009 by Gregallmanfan]

[Edited on 8/21/2009 by Gregallmanfan]

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 8/21/2009 at 11:54 AM
Feeling awfully 'backwoodsy' today aren't you.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 8/21/2009 at 11:58 AM
quote:
quote:
I boycott Whole Foods because they are too expensive. If I could get my wife to go along with that, I could save a bundle.
I'm with you Otie - but maybe that's why they can afford to pay for health care for their workers.


There is probably more truth in that "maybe" then we know. It could be that simple.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 8/21/2009 at 11:59 AM
quote:
Feeling awfully 'backwoodsy' today aren't you.




Why yes, yes I am. In fact, I made my way through a corn field just yesterday;


 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 8/21/2009 at 12:02 PM
quote:
The mind of the liberal, who now b*tches about a successful chain of stores that adheres to providing fresh,free range and organic whole foods. Number one, there are plenty of farmer's markets here that offer a locally-grown alternative. What;s the problem? I don't get my ramps from Whole Foods.

As if psuedo-intellectual urban liberals who think food grows in cellophane, who wouldn't understand nature if it bit them in the ass, actually understands or gives a damn about farmers to begin with. Please! I'd pay money to see them wring a free range chicken's neck.



Rise up and abandon the creeping meatball.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 8/21/2009 at 12:05 PM
quote:
quote:
Feeling awfully 'backwoodsy' today aren't you.




Why yes, yes I am. In fact, I made my way through a corn field just yesterday;




Corn being the operative word here. How many ears did you shoot, gut and clean?

 

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Sometimes we can't choose the music life gives us - but we damn sure can choose how we dance!


 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 8/21/2009 at 12:10 PM
quote:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- -----
Feeling awfully 'backwoodsy' today aren't you.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------- -----



Why yes, yes I am. In fact, I made my way through a corn field just yesterday;


--------------------------------------------------------------------------- -----



Corn being the operative word here. How many ears did you shoot, gut and clean?



I'm glad you asked because, as a matter of fact, I was harvesting some free range, organic whole foods myself yesterday;

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 8/21/2009 at 12:19 PM
"Thank you, wild life for allowing my days to start with murder."

 

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  posted on 8/21/2009 at 12:21 PM
quote:
"Thank you, wild life for allowing my days to start with murder."



You think that hamburger committed suicide?

 

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Maximum Peach



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  posted on 8/21/2009 at 12:22 PM
quote:
interesting points, many vailid

under Mr Mackey's plan, what happens if you lose your job?
I think this is a major problem with how health care coverage is acquired in our country.

I don't believe in govt doing it, because the more more that flows through Washington, the more waste we get and the more lobbyists are drawn towards that money. Govt has a place in regard to cost containment and regulation, but that's as far as I'd prefer it to go.

Conversely, I don't believe the burden should be on business. We need them to be competitive and focus on their success so that jobs and industries stay securely on our shores.

If issues of portability were resolved, adding the ability of insurance companies to sell across state lines, if the unfair taxation differences between employer-provided and individual-purchased were worked out, I believe that the citizens should buy their own care in a free and competitive marketplace. We do it for cars and homes, why not health care? We take a number of the ideas for increasing competition, decreasing costs, and regulating to ensure that issues like pre-existing conditions are worked out. We combine that with new options for individuals to buy their care, and we change the equation.

One thing is sure: you get much more competition and customer care from where you buy your car or home insurance than from your health care provider, even if you have great employer-provided coverage. The difference is you're seen as a customer in the first scenario, and get treated accordingly. A giant govt bureaucracy with no other options doesn't have to treat people well - they're a monopoly and can do as they please. A company that competes for your purchase decision and money every year has to pay more attention to the customer, costs, and quality of service.

 

____________________
Obamacare: To insure the uninsured, we first make the insured

uninsured and then make them pay more to be insured again,

so the original uninsured can be insured for free.

 
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