Monday, August 17, 2009

The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare

The August 11, 2009 Wall Street Journal recently published an OpEd by whole Foods CEO John Mackey, proposing some genuine free market alternatives to government-run "universal health care".

In his piece, "The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare", Mackey makes several good recommendation including:
• 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.

• Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost.
(Read the whole thing.)

Although I have a few very minor quibbles, I think he is basically on the right track.

Whole Foods is taking a lot of heat for its views.

Hence, I thought I'd give them my moral support. Here's a copy of an e-mail I sent their customer service department (and posted to their discussion forum):
Dear Whole Foods,

My wife and I have been customers of Whole Foods for many years now, here in the Denver metro area.

We were delighted to read CEO John Mackey's excellent piece in the Wall Street Journal proposing genuine free market health care reforms rather than the usual heavy-handed top-down government-mandated "solutions", which is all we're hearing lately.

In particular, I applaud his recognition of the fact that there is no "right" to health care. This is the fundamental moral issue underlying the health care policy debate. Any attempt by the government to guarantee a false "right" to health care must necessary violate the actual individual rights of patients, providers, and taxpayers. Hence, I'm glad that Mr. Mackey is proposing solutions that will lower health costs for Americans while respecting our individual rights.

This country was founded on principles of freedom and individual liberty. I'm glad that CEO Mackey recognizes and respects that fact. As a result, my wife and I are delighted to continue to give our business to Whole Foods and we will encourage our friends and colleagues to do so as well.


Paul Hsieh, MD
Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine (FIRM)
My wife also sent them this letter:
Dear Whole Foods --

I have been a regular shopper at Whole Foods for the past year, but now I have more to appreciate about your stores than your fine nuts, hearty meats, and pungent cheeses. I salute CEO John Mackey for his op-ed proposing free market health care reforms.

I am particularly grateful for Mr. Mackey's clear statement that health care is a need not a right. Too often, people think that their want creates an obligation on the part of others to satisfy it. In fact, a person is responsible for satisfying his own needs and wants in life. His rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness enable him to do that: they allow him the freedom to act in pursuit of his own goals without forcible interference from others. They do not allow him to rob and plunder his neighbors. If that is permitted by law, the results are exactly as Ayn Rand portrayed in "Atlas Shrugged."

I realize that many Whole Foods shoppers support socialized medicine, so I particularly appreciate Mr. Mackey's willingness to speak out on this issue. Such courage is rare in America today.

Thank you!

Diana Hsieh (Ph.D, Philosophy, CU Boulder)
Sedalia, Colorado
In times like this, the courage of men such as John Mackey should be praised and rewarded.