Thursday, August 13, 2009

John Mackey is a Moron

health care, mackey, conservative, liberal, deficit
John Mackey, of Whole Foods, has a solution to the health care crisis that won't cost us a dime. Eight solutions, in fact. Eight idiotic solutions that would do absolutely nothing to help the working poor or middle class, but would doubtless do wonders for the health care industry.

1. 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. so, requiring people that don't have money for health care to pay more towards health care would solve our health care problems? define "our". 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.

think about this for a second. i have a $500 deductible. i rarely have $5 left over at the end of any given week, so for me, $500 may as well be $5,000,000. So, yes, I do have an incentive to spend the first $500, but not carefully. I have two choices: don't use health insurance at all (=death), or run up the $500 bill at the beginning of the year by going to the ER. the ER will send me bills, but i can pay them $5 a month and still use their services next time.

Mr. Mackey's theory seems to be that the reason health care is so expensive is that people just aren't being "careful" with their health insurance. he seems to think people are going to doctors for kicks, getting tests for fun, and just generally treating health care like Disneyland.

What planet is Mr. Mackey living on?

 4. 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. most of the mandates are aimed at coverage specific to women such as birth control, pap smears and cancer screening. beyond that, "individual customer preferences"? health care isn't a clothing store, and who "prefers" cancer treatments? and why should my health care be held hostage by what most people "prefer"? I'm sure most people aren't even aware of the needs of someone with porphyria, let along have a preference for them.

6.  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? does anyone here really think that choosing your treatments based on price is a good idea? oh, it's most often the way we choose, but not because it's a good idea. the fact of the matter is, if you need a treatment, surgery, medicine to save your life, you need it. the fact that it's more expensive than your house is irrelevant- or should be. you need it.

8. 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. fuck making sure tax paying Americans have health insurance- let's leave it to the chance that if there's a box to check, random strangers will donate enough to provide health insurance to those that need it. that's a way better strategy.

Then John Mackey makes the most appalling argument I have ever seen: 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? no, they have the same right to health care as they do to food and shelter. everyone should have food to eat, a roof over their head and health care when they need it. to argue that starving children and homeless people prove that i don't deserve affordable health insurance is . . . i'm not sure what to call that. sociopathic? i dunno.

Following the "Canadians die waiting in line" meme, we get this (from the owner of Whole Foods, remember):

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 you're sick, it's your fault, so go die in an alley you fatfatfatty.

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. really? care to cite that evidence? eating at Whole foods will reverse Alzheimer's and Multiple Sclerosis and Arthritis? really? fucking really, you fucking lying prick?!

You know what, Mr. Mackey? The next time you get sick, I bet you'll go to a doctor, the finest doctor money can buy, not eat an apple and hope for the best.


  1. This health care "controversy" is starting to get out of hand. People are treating this like it is religious, ignoring facts and just going by their emotions based on lies of the right. This is just getting out of hand and absurd.

  2. I have one of those high-deductible HSA plans. The problem, as you also say, is that it assumes you have enough cash to even pay the deductible. To most people, myself included, the prospect of shelling out $2,500 is not a small one.

  3. I have to wonder if his employees think their health plan is as generous as he seems to believe...

  4. yeah, he keeps saying they're thrilled with a $2500 deductible, i'd like to hear from them.

  5. Maybe that can be his recruiting slogan: join the Whole Foods workforce, become underinsured!

  6. Whole Foods: there's no reacharound, and you'll need to bring your own vaseline.

  7. Well, the article says, "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."

    Now, the gap between that 1800 and the 2500 deductible is 700. If they're paid bi-weekly like I am, that means if you sign up to have $27/check put into your HSA, you've covered periods -- since the high deductible insurance kicks in after the first 2500. Frankly, $27/check is a lot less than I pay for standard (non HSA) low deductible coverage through my job. And indeed, being in Austin a know a fair number of people who've worked at Whole Foods, and they've all said the benefits are pretty good.

    Whether one likes the current health care reform on offer or not, the Whole Foods employee plan sounds pretty decent.

  8. So Mackey's being entirely disingenuous. Basically, he's offering insurance with what is considered a low deductible: $700, not a high deductible.

  9. Is it just me or do people who don't want health care reform have really bad arguments?

    I have yet to hear a compelling argument as to why we should keep the current system, but I would like to.

  10. Because then you won't be able to tell who the special people are by their stunning lack of TB and gangrene! Yeesh.

    Used to be special people were white and male. Then they took away white, quickly followed by male. "Has health insurance" is pretty much all that's left these days.

  11. Trenchant commentary PF. Always a pleasure to read your pieces. So glad the Cynical Nymph steered me your way.

    You make me want to avoid Whole Foods, frankly. Sometimes the 'cleverness' of some of these execs, who are so out of touch with the everyday realities of the working public that it's stunning, is just repellant...

  12. welcome, marielle. yes, that completely out of touch "well, if your insurance won't cover it, why don't you just pay for it" explanation drives me insane.

  13. Mackey is the same lying dickhead who tried to manipulate the price of Wild Oat's stock by posting on the Yahoo stock site under an anonymous user name before buying up the company. At least he's consistent in his neocon "free market" ideals. I won't be shopping there again...

  14. There is some misunderstanding about the working of high deductible plans and HSAs. I get that type of plan through work and I love it. Granted, I am younger and generally in good health. Nevertheless, in a plan like this with a $2500 deductible per year and $1800 into the HSA per year it works like this:

    Any and all expenses up to $1800 are essentially FREE per year. You only pay $700 out of your own pocket if you go over $2500. If you go to $1900, you only pay $100. If you only spend $800, the left over $1000 rolls over into the next year. That means next year you have $2800 in your HSA account which you may or may not use up. Yes, the second year, you have more money to spend than your deductible so even if you get your appendix taken out [and I did :( ] you would have left over money ($300 after the $2500 deductible). Extra awesome is that stuff like OTC medicines or medical equipment can also be paid for with the HSA account if you want.

    Not only that, but if I leave the company, I take the HSA with me. Even if I get on a traditional copay plan, I can still use that HSA to pay future copays, medication costs, etc.

    The closest people come to getting screwed is if they have over $2500 expenses every year and then they have to pay $700 dollars each year. Not chump change, but still just a fraction of your expenses.


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