Health Care Reform - Full Article

As you are probably aware, I wrote an Op/Ed piece that was published in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week on health care reform, one of the biggest and most emotional issues facing our country. I was asked to write an Op/Ed piece and I gave my personal opinions. While I am in favor of health care reform, Whole Foods Market as a company has no official position on the issue.

 

In answer to President Obama's invitation to all Americans to put forward constructive ideas for reforming our health care system, I wrote this Op/Ed piece called simply "Health Care Reform." An editor at the Journal rewrote the headline to call it "Whole Foods Alternative to Obamacare," which led to antagonistic feelings by many. That was not my intention - in fact, I do not mention the President at all in this piece.

 

I fully realize that there are many opinions on the healthcare debate, including inside my own company. As we, as a nation, continue to discuss this, I am hopeful that both sides can do so in a civil manner that will lead to positive change for all concerned. You are welcome to share your thoughts in the comments section below. (Just remember our comment guidelines prohibit vulgarity and personal attacks.)

 

Here is the original unedited version that I submitted.

 

Health Care Reform

 

"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 and 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 moves us much closer to a complete governmental takeover of our health care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the exact opposite direction-toward less governmental control and more individual empowerment. Here are eight reforms that would greatly lower the cost of health care for everyone:

 

1. Remove the legal obstacles which slow the creation of high deductible health insurance plans and Health Savings Accounts. The combination of high deductible health insurance and Health Savings Accounts 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, and provides up to $1,800 per year in additional health care dollars through deposits into their own 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 team member satisfaction.

 

2. Change the tax laws so that that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have exactly the same tax benefits. Right now employer health insurance benefits are fully tax deductible for employers but private health insurance is not. This is unfair.

 

3. 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 health insurance wherever we live. Health insurance should be portable everywhere.

 

4. Repeal all government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover. These mandates have increased the cost of health insurance many billions of dollars. What is insured and what is not insured should be determined by individual health insurance customer preferences and not through special interest lobbying.

 

5. Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors into paying insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. These costs are ultimately being passed back to us through much higher prices for health care.

 

6. Make health care costs transparent so that consumers will understand what health care treatments cost. How many people know what their last doctor's visit cost? What other goods or services do we as consumers buy without knowing how much they will cost us? We need a system where people can compare and contrast costs and services.

 

7. Enact Medicare reform: we need to face up to the actuarial fact that Medicare is heading towards bankruptcy and move towards greater patient empowerment and responsibility.

 

8. Permit individuals to make voluntary tax deductible donations on their IRS tax forms to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren't covered by Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP or any other government program.

 

Many promoters of health care reform believe that people have an intrinsic ethical right to health care-to universal and equal access to doctors, medicines, and hospitals. While all of us can empathize with those who are sick, how can we say that all people have any more of an intrinsic right to health care than they have an intrinsic right to food, clothing, owning their own homes, a car or a personal computer? Health care is a service which we all need at some point in our lives, but just like food, clothing, and shelter it is best provided through voluntary and mutually-beneficial market exchanges rather than through government mandates. A careful reading of both The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will not reveal any intrinsic right to health care, food or shelter, because there isn't any. This "right" has never existed in America.

 

Even in countries such as Canada and the U.K., there is no intrinsic right to health care. Rather, citizens in these countries are told by governmental bureaucrats what health care treatments and medicines 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 and expensive treatments. Although Canada has a population smaller than California, 830,000 Canadians are waiting to be admitted to a hospital or to get treatment. In England, the waiting list is 1.8 million citizens. At Whole Foods we allow our team members to vote on what benefits they most want the company to fund on their behalf. Our Canadian and British team members express their benefit preferences very clearly-they want supplemental health care more than additional paid time off, larger donations to their retirement plans, or greater food discounts; they want 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 to spend 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 governmental spending and control, what we need to do is address the root causes of disease and poor health. This begins with the realization that every American adult is responsible for their own health. Unfortunately many of our health care problems are self-inflicted with over 2/3 of Americans now overweight and 1/3 obese. Most of the diseases which are both killing us and making health care so expensive-heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and obesity, which account for about 70% of all health care spending, are mostly preventable through proper diet, exercise, not smoking, minimal or no alcohol consumption, and other healthy lifestyle choices.

American Diet

Over the past two decades, breakthrough scientific research by Colin Campbell, as documented in his book The China Study, and clinical medical experiences by many doctors including Dean Ornish, Caldwell Esselstyn, John McDougall, Joel Fuhrman, and Neal Barnard have shown that a diet consisting of whole foods which are plant-based, nutrient dense, and low-fat will help prevent and often reverse most of the degenerative diseases that are killing us, and becoming more and more expensive to treat through drugs and surgery. We should be able to live healthy and largely disease free lives until we are well into our 90's and even past 100 years of age.

 

Health care reform in America is very important. Whatever reforms are enacted it is essential that they be financially responsible and that we have the freedom to choose our own doctors and the health care services that best suit our own unique set of lifestyle choices. We are 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 personal lives and will help create a vibrant and sustainable American society.

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4666 comments

Comments

Julie says …

<p>I came to your blog hoping that the original article would redeem you. I'm sorry that it has not. Your ideas are excellent, but only serve a fraction of our population. You take care of you and yours and of course don't let the insurance companies suffer for a minute. Step out of the box sir and look at the world we live in'¦ there is more than exists in your neighborhood.</p>

Marissa says …

<p>Thank you for clarifying the reasons why I will no longer be padding your pockets. I would prefer to support my local co-op anyway. Where people actually care about the welfare of others.</p>

boadicea says …

<p>By all means, keep my last comment in moderating limbo. Just gives me a reason to point it out all over the internet instead of simply leaving it as part of this discussion.</p>

Laaz says …

<p>Well said!</p> <p>I must admit I have not done much shopping at Whole Foods in the past, but I admire your bravery in publishing this piece and I've vowed to spend more of my money at Whole Foods in the future.</p>

Tim Schiedel says …

<p>Hey, John;</p> <p>Glad you're getting so much new business out of your contributions to the madness, and hope that these fellows actually put their money where their mouths are, because I'm a real customer who's really not coming back.</p> <p>Good luck;<br> t.</p>

chris says …

<p>Mr. Mackey,</p> <p>I've been a Whole Foods customer for years. Your article makes it even easier for me to justify continuing as a customer. Thank you for voicing your PERSONAL thoughts on health care. Your offerings are well thought and far better than what our elected officials have concocted. Running for office any time soon? <img src="The%20CEO%E2%80%99s%20Blog%20%C2%BB%20Blog%20Archive%20%C2%BB%20Health%20Care%20Reform%20%E2%80%93%20Full%20Article_files/icon_wink.gif" alt=";-)" class="wp-smiley"></p> <p>Good on you for standing up for what you believe in AND voicing your thoughts, knowing they'd be contentious, but doing so because you're convicted to. You have shown great character and integrity. That is uncommon these days. You won't have trouble finding a job if Whole Foods decides to let you go. It would be their loss.</p> <p>God Bless,<br> Chris Halverson</p>

AngryLibrarian says …

<p>This article is so disturbing.</p> <p>You've obviously been reading too much Ayn Rand and have forgotten about humanity, sympathy, AND REALITY.</p> <p>I wish you would have (instead of saying 'fix medicare' and 'repeal taxes') addressed REAL issues that can be dealt with such as 'pre-existing conditions' that prevent people from accessing any kind of health insurance even if they could afford it. Or how insurance companies select what procedures, medicines, treatments, etc. they will cover and for whom regardless of a doctor's opinion or the severity of their condition. That's rationing. That's careless, selfish, and blood-thirsty. If a corporate, for-profit, insurance company recognizes that denying someone treatment while they still pay for insurance works in their (heartless) favor'¦that's what they're going to do. And that's what they're doing. And it's a crime.</p> <p>To say we don't have an intrinsic right to food &amp; shelter also implies that our police force, fire department, public schools, national parks, hell even our military, should only exist for those wealthy enough to have stuff and have their own sense of entitlement to these services. Those who are rich enough and therefore worthy enough to live. That's disgusting. to imply that one person has the right to be protected or to have access to food over another'why? because you sit in an office and run a grocery store? because that's harder work than the strawberry pickers in california providing the produce that you mark up and profit off of? Oh right, they're illegal immigrants they definitely don't have a right to live. </p> <p>Excuse my tangent.</p> <p>It's just mind boggling to me that the desire to preserve American lives with hard reform and sacrifice by all for the common good is not seen as patriotic. Your list of points is completely abstract and irrelevant and misleading to your supporters. All I read is 'I have good health, lots of money, amazing insurance: that's my right. You have no MS, no money, and no insurance: that's not my problem.' What about your sense of entitlement? You speak as though only the wealthy have worked hard for what they have while millions upon millions or people struggle everyday to scrape by. And it's this labor that you profit off of. Why not protect it? Do you really see the under/uninsured as expendable?</p> <p>For a company that presents itself as so progressive, so full of sympathy and empathy, you sure do leave a lot of your shoppers confused and saddened.</p> <p>You'll be happy to note that I never really shopped at your store anyway since your prices are almost as bad as the cost of health insurance. </p> <p>I know this is probably too liberal for you, but this NYTimes article might give you a glimpse at the people you wish to deny access to:</p> <p><a href="http://web.archive.org/web/20101020182743/http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/13/health/13clinic.html?_r=1&amp;ref=health" rel="nofollow">http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/13/health/13clinic.html?_r=1&amp;ref=health</a></p>

Bill Pearson says …

<p>'I was asked to write an op/ed piece' Please!.. that bs may fly with your Texas golfingbuddies, but op/ed columns are submitted for consideration not ordered up like a shot of wheat grass. I've never heard of a newspaper requesting someone write an op/ed. It must be nice to feel that self-important. </p> <p>That small detail aside, what were you thinking? Are you so dug into the red state way of life that it didn't dawn on you that a big chunk of your customer base might take offense at your stating an opinion on such a volatile subject? Any way this played out, you were going to upset a whole bunch of customers. I bet you can't wait for the next board meeting. If sales tank this weekend, the meeting may even get pushed up.</p> <p>I just reread your opinion piece and agree that you have something to say on this subject. But not in the WSJ'¦ or the LA or NY Times. Get invited to appear before one of the House or Senate committees. You're a big, important guy. Your people could swing that invitation in a heartbeat. Guys like you can help our country the most by finding something you can support and then helping unify the disparate sides. If this doesn't start<br> happening, we all lose. And if we all lose, organic tofu and free range octopus will be the least of our worries.</p>

Former Seattle Customer says …

<p>I was a regular customer of Whole Foods, but no more. I'm not putting a penny in your pockets. If you really think your business can survive on right wing customers alone you're sadly mistaken. See you in bankruptcy court.</p>

M.Smith says …

<p>Excellent! I will go out of my way to shop at Whole Foods. Thanks for having the courage to speak out and tell the truth.</p>

NC Politics says …

<p>I was a customer, but no more. This is straight out of the Heritage Foundation playbook, who if you haven't seen them is running ads against health insurance reform.</p>

Galt is Dead says …

<p>You sir, are as far from a Patriot as one can get. And you commenters who have called Mr. Mackey a Patriot have a lot to learn about what makes America great. </p> <p>We. Care. About. Each. Other.</p> <p>Yes, even the poor. Yes, even those who do not speak English. Yes, even the 'shiftless.' Yes, even those in (gasp) UNIONS!!</p> <p>Your views are rooted in nothing but greed, fear and ignorance. You don't want YOUR money going to pay for SOMEONE ELSE to get treatment. Why not suggest we go to a for-profit police force? $9.99 for the first reported crime, $5.00 for each additional crime. If you want us to go after the man who robbed your house, that's an extra $49.95 ' but check for coupons in your ValPak!</p> <p>What about a privately-owned Fire Department? Firefighting is $400/hr. (Fire trucks aren't cheap!) If you can't pay '¦ well, there's your garden hose, knock yourself out. And if the fire was due to 'pre existing conditions' like faulty wiring, then forget about it even if you do have the cash. Get the marshmallows and make the best of it.</p> <p>Of course, real patriots can just pull themselves up by the bootstraps and buy their own private fire departments and police forces.</p> <p>The 'Every Man For Himself' Reagan era had a good run, but it's over now, Mr. Mackey. Real Americans now realize the value of caring for each other. But Mr. Mackey believes in the free market, and won't listen unless you speak with your wallets. </p> <p>Whole Foods is for Birthers.</p>

Jim R. Baumgartner says …

<p>Looks like Mr. Mackey has a few supporters on the blog. I hope you manage to sell organic food to non-liberals. Good luck with expanding the natural foods business with conservatives. LOL.</p>

zack anderson says …

<p>Dear Whole Foods,</p> <p>I have spent tens of thousands of dollars at your stores in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Manhattan over the years.</p> <p>I will never spend a nickel there again.</p> <p>Thank you for making my life less complicated.</p> <p>Sincerely,</p> <p>Zack Anderson</p>

Samantha J says …

<p>I keep reading that you have NEW costumers now, Mr. Mackey. You have just done a great marketing job! Losing your actual and abundant target and getting a new and scarce one.<br> People who care about their health enough to pay a bit more for their goods are usually people who also care for everyone else's well-being. Now you got yourself tons of greedy republicans who were not able, in the first place, to invest on their own healthy food. Lets see for how long will these new costumers be Whole Foods clients.</p> <p>I will not buy again in Whole Foods. It's not because you don't have the right to speak up, it's because your deceitful article confuses people.</p>

Jo says …

<p>I've been shopping at the Lamar store at least twice a week because it's on my commute. No more. I cannot and will not support a business whose CEO advocates against the little guy. </p> <p>I should probably thank you, as this boycott will end up saving me money in the long run.</p> <p>Also, those who strain to applaud Mr. Mackey would be well served to research WF employees' actual plans. They do not get the amount of 'health care dollars' Mr. Mackey states until they have worked for WF for a number of years. A plan with a $2500 deductible only encourages waiting until health problems are severe enough to pay more than a co-pay. This costs EVERYONE. Every day we put off comprehensive, compassionate health care reform is a day our country gets closer to the end of the debt and negative productivity plank.</p>

Joe R says …

<p>Yes, while Americans are overweight and obese, this is supposedly a first world country and we should develop a more efficient and effective health system that covers all Americans, regardless of socio-economic status. As a loyal Whole Foods shopper, I am surprised that John Mackey would side with the forces for selfishness and greed, and that he not advocate for a modern health care systems like in the other highly developed countries. </p> <p>'To whom much is given, much is expected.' Frankly, I expected more from Mr. Mackey and Whole Foods.</p>

JoshS says …

<p>Sorry, Mr Mackey ' a totally bogus response. Your quote at the beginning comparing health care reform to socialism says it all. If you had your way, insurance for the poor would only be there if we made a donation on our tax form. And people born with disabilities that no one wanted to insure? Your answer is eat more fruit from Whole Foods.</p> <p>You lost me as a customer and your subterfuge in your response has me more resolved than ever to be in front of your Arlington VA store frequently, handing out copies of your editorial.</p> <p>You are perfectly entitled to your opinion. However, I am also perfectly entitled to show my disagreement and take the dollars I spend at your store and spend them at Harris Teeter. </p> <p>I hope your Board of Directors takes notice of this.</p>

Jen says …

<p>My mother has a high-deductible insurance policy and here is how it works: she spends $300 per month on health insurance that she cannot use because all of her extra money is being spent on paying for the policy in the first place. She can't afford a mammogram, for God's sake. An HSA would help her how, exactly? You can't save money you don't have. </p> <p>High-deductible insurance for someone with low income is nothing more than very expensive catastrophic coverage.</p> <p>Thank you for your article in the WSJ, it has made me realize that my money is better spent elsewhere.</p>

Chaz says …

<p>Your ideas are still more of the same old right wing free market bull.</p>

allison says …

<p>Thank you for having the courage and conviction to come out publicly against this further power grab being pushed by the wildly out of touch Federal legislators. As a critical care professional I see daily how Americans abuse their bodies in spite of the fact that they have been counselled by doctors, nurses, PSA's, etc. It is sickening to hear how our President is demonizing and slandering the dedicated physicians and surgeons whose hard work and devotion to quality patient care I witness every day at work. We will be shopping at Whole Foods more often. Please keep speaking out.</p>

Joan says …

<p>You lost me with your opening Thatcher quote. It's also somewhat disingenuous to state that you are not reflecting the views of Whole Foods Market because the truth is you are Whole Foods Market. I will no longer be shopping there. I should add I live in New York City. I guarantee you this has not played well here.</p>

R. Walker says …

<p>Thank you for being brave enough to express your opinion. Whether I agree with you or not, it takes guts, and I will be shopping at your store simply because you are not one of the silent majority. Silence is what gets us into messes in the first place.</p> <p>You should not be condemned for voicing your opinion ' is that not the right of all citizens of a free country? Those who won't shop at your store are also exercising their rights, but it's sad that they won't ' THEY are the reason so many people stay silent.</p> <p>Fear of voicing opinion.</p>

Nick Kokoshis says …

<p>The message I got from Mr. Mackey's editorial is clear: health care should be rationed not according to need, but according to economic class status: the wealthy will never have to wait for health care, the middle class may or may not have access to it depending on the whims of the health care insurance company), and the working poor and destitute should get health care at the charitable whims of the super-rich (like CEOs of huge companies that need a charity tax write-off.)<br> I have never seen such ball-faced greed from someone who stands for something like the health food and environmental movement which has always been a concern of the left wing and ridiculed by the right wing. Apparently the old saying that power corrupts absolutely and the rich care only about their own is absolutely true.</p>

Dara Beam says …

<p>I wish I had a Whole Foods here in Knoxville, TN. I admire your willingness to share your views, despite the fact that you stand to lose money because of them. If I didn't have to drive to Nashville to shop your stores, I would!</p>

bryantp says …

<p>Your description of the Canadian health care system is follows stereotypes and is totally inaccurate. Currently, I live in a country with 'socialized' medicine (Japan). Their system works far better than ours, does not eliminate choice, and has long waiting periods only for elective surgery. When in the U.S., I've been a staunch customer of yours since the Austin days. I'm rethinking that. It seems you've lost touch with your roots. For a really well-balanced report on this, check out the Denver Post at <a href="http://web.archive.org/web/20101020182743/http://www.denverpost.com/recommended/ci_12523427" rel="nofollow">http://www.denverpost.com/recommended/ci_12523427</a></p>

Mike says …

<p>Mr. Mackey,</p> <p>First, I have no opinion yet on wether the current bill in congress is good or bad. Why? Because there is no way to believe what anyone says, including you. </p> <p>I don't know what the solution is, but one thing is simple to understand. Health care insurance companies exist to make a profit for themselves and their shareholders. After all the consolidation and merging and expense reduction, re-engineering, etc. etc. the only way left for these companies to grow and increase profits is to avoid paying claims'keeping the money.</p> <p>How is this done? By denying claims, finding pre-existing conditions after the fact once you get sick and dropping you (My dad was somehow supposed to know he had cancer when he renewed his insurance this year even though it had only been diagnosed in July. Yes, he's been dropped because they claim he knew.) Now, my brothers and I are paying for his treatment out of our savings. Looks like I'm going to have to get a loan for my daughters college education which begins 4 years from now.</p> <p>Until a few years ago, I would have agreed that we have the best health care in the world. That's because until a few years ago when I got the bug and started my own business, I worked for Fortune 100 companies where I received very good health insurance. Not once was a claim denied or unpaid. Not once did I have a concern about my health care.</p> <p>Now, I have private insurance. But I've spent at least 50-60 hours on the phone with my insurance company, fighting over every single claim. They refuse the claim, every time. I have to resubmit, every time. My doctors don't get paid for months and I'm losing well over a week of productivity. </p> <p>My business is actually doing very well at the moment, but I'm losing work and sleep over my families health care. Worst part is, this is the same insurance company with almost the exact same plan that I had at my last corporate job. Seems that if you're not on a giant corporate group plan, you don't count. </p> <p>As for those long lines in Canada and the UK, we've got a much longer one here in the U.S. It's 40+ million uninsured who don't have a line to stand on. I have insurance and I had to wait over six weeks to see a specialist last year- only to wait another 4 weeks to see another specialist and then wait for 2 months for surgery. That's almost 5 months waiting. But, oh, I forgot. No one waits in America for health care.</p> <p>One other area we agree on is that refined and processed foods are playing a tremendous role in the fattening of America. Are you saying we should go after big agriculture now? Are you? Really? Or is that just the marketing of your business you're referring to?</p> <p>And what about the fact that we can't compete as well internationally in business because our major competitors all have socialist (or communist) health care programs-removing that major expense from the bottom line? Wasn't it Toyota that built it's last factory in Canada because the health care cost in the U.S. would have made the factory unprofitable?</p> <p>So what is left? Most of what you suggest would barely make a dent in the problem. Where are the numbers to support what you say? As they say 'Show me the money.'</p>

Donna Bennett says …

<p>Thank you for taking a stand! I will be doing my shopping from now on at my local Whole Foods store.</p>

pjean says …

<p>Honest,reasonable and logical. I am sorry some have attacked you for the position would take on the issue of health care. There are many Americans today who are being demonized and labeled because although they don't like the bill on the table, their ideas of how to address this issue is much like yours. It's unfortunate that someone who has learned through his business experience, what solutions are encouraging employees to take ownership of their health care decisions, should be attacked for such perceptions.</p> <p>When I attend a townhall, I will keep in mind your sound solutions, along with other very reasonable ideas that encourage better health, personal freedom and less government intervention. I have an HSA myself and it has allowed me to make the same thoughtful decisions about my health and the health of my family. There is great support for you. Average, reasonable Americans have a lot in common. Some entities would rather we not get too friendly with one another or it will lessen their power over the American people.</p> <p>Blessings.</p>

A very disappointed and now former shopper says …

<p>Honestly, it blows me away that Mr. Mackey came out with an op-ed like this. Personal opinion is one thing, but does this man realize just exactly which kind of people shop at his stores?! This was a stupid and unnecessary move on his part. I am personally very offended by some of his comments on health care. I have loved whole foods for the past 5 years and shop there as often as possible, usually 2-3 times a month. I travel over 10 miles to get to WF, bypassing dozens of other supermarkets. I have been willing to pay the higher prices because I believed in the mission of WF. I was even a stockholder for a few years!</p> <p>Well my friends, this was a dealbreaker. There is a Trader Joe's and a Mrs Greenjeans much closer to me than WF. I will now be saving gas and traveling time, and shopping at these other chains.</p>

Jason says …

<p>Sorry, still not shopping at Whole Foods anymore.</p>

Mark Osborne says …

<p>I appreciate Mr. Mackey's stand in proposing an alternative to a complete government takeover of the healthcare industry. I have liked Whole Foods for years ' I like them even more now and will shop there more in the future.</p>

Kate says …

<p>I loved shopping at Whole Foods, but I can't support a company run by a CEO who believes what you espoused in the WSJ. What you advocate would mean the government is flush and doctors will be wealthier, but millions of American people will either suffer and die for lack of health care and funds to pay for medicines, tests, and treatments OR they will end being bankrupted by health costs. </p> <p>I'd love it if insurance companies were so cool they would work with what you've outlined. But they are greedy and do not care if we live or die. Apparently you don't either. </p> <p>We used to spend upwards of $500 a month at Whole Foods. Until you are no longer employed by the company we will not shop there.</p>

dave says …

<p>you think health care should be bought and sold like a personal computer? how do you put a price on life saving treatment? if a person cannot afford chemotherapy they should be allowed to die?</p>

Pat B says …

<p>Not much to say other than I can't imagine what would compel me to set foot in a Whole Foods store again. I'm kind of ashamed of myself for what I've already spent there.</p>

Charlie says …

<p>I read your WSJ article, and also read that some folks are now boycotting the store. I have been driving over 120 miles roundtrip weekly to purchase all my groceries for over 15 years and I do not plan to cease that. In fact I am encouraged by your position and wanted to voice my support to you and your entire team at Whole Foods. In my opinion all you did was give some excellent alternatives to socialized health care. You expressed an informed opinion, which is still legal. Your arguments were reasonable and valid. I support your right to free speech and I also agree with your sentiments. Please do not let the naive naysayers bother you. Keep up the good work!</p>

M. D. Hardy, M.D. says …

<p>What perversion of sanity transmuted accessibility to medical care into a 'right'? I can understand that one has the right to contract with a plumber to provide a service for a fee. I can understand that one has the right to buy groceries from whomever he chooses. I can understand that one has the right to offer his goods or services for a price that he considers appropriate, and that the person who desires those goods or services has the right to seek another source for those goods or services if he thinks the price is too high or the quality of the product is not satisfactory. Such is the nature of a free society; such is the nature of moral commerce between individuals.</p> <p>When one man, by force, expropriates the goods or services provided by another man, we call him a thief. When one man is forced, either by a gun held to his head, or by government edict, to provide goods or services for less than they would be worth in a free society, we call him a slave. When thievery by one group of people, and enslavement of another group becomes the law of the land, is this not antithetical to all that America has stood for?</p> <p>As a physician, I personally get a great deal of satisfaction out of taking care of someone who, through no fault of his own, cannot afford to pay the fee I would ordinarily expect to be paid. The 'pay' I receive in these instances is, on the basis of my moral code, adequate, and it is something I've chosen to do. That patient is not a thief; I am not his slave.</p> <p>Such would not be the case under House Bill 3200 (or any of the other bills that I'm aware of) now being considered in Congress. And just as my ability to contract with patients in a free-market fashion would be destroyed, so would patients' rights to decide on what care they receive be terminated.</p> <p>Do you really want a government bureaucrat deciding what level of care you receive? Do you really want someone who feels enslaved providing your medical care?</p> <p>Thank you, Mr. Mackey, for, with your voice and your pen, standing up for America and all Americans (even though some seem not realize that's what you are doing)</p>

Your Primary Demographic says …

<p>Absurd. A billionaire's 'I've got mine so you just need to endure' vision of health care. The selective omission of what is subsidized (i.e., socialized) fully in this country and which allows corporations like WF to even function is cleverly ' or stupidly ' disregarded. History tends not to be charitable to Mackeys; he who hoped to be regarded as the Andrew Carnegie of Arugula must now contend with irrevocably alienating his primary (educated, affluent, mobile) customer base.</p> <p>As for myself, I'll be shopping locally &amp; organically, patronizing small businesses that, with the aid of a just universal health care plan, will be WF's uncrushable competition. Not even hiding under pseudonyms will protect WF's CEO from that market freedom.</p>

Jenny Bou (kids' book author) says …

<p>Mr. Mackey ' You may have lost Cindy Lou, but you are gaining 'Jenny Bou' and her family. My daughter is allergic to corn, so I find your store has the most options for us. After reading your Op/Ed, I stopped by the Buckhead location on my way home from work today and picked up dinner for my family. BTW- I love your Tuna Tartare. It is the best! </p> <p>Keep fighting for Freedom! Moo wah!</p>

A very disappointed and now former shopper says …

<p>Another thought- if Canadians are so very unhappy with their health care system, please tell me why the man who created that system (Tommy Douglas)was named in 2004 as 'The Greatest Canadian' of ALL TIME?? To put that in context, Wayne Gretzky only came in at #10.</p> <p>They seem to have their priorities in order up there in Canada. No doubt there are some detractors, but no system is without its critics. At least the ones up there will live to criticize!</p>

Mary says …

<p>I rarely shopped at Whole Foods, but I will shop there regularly now. Thank you, Mr. Mackey, for showing the courage to speak up with honesty and intelligence.</p>

R. Duffy says …

<p>I 'WHOLE' heartedly agree with you'please-please-please don't buckle to the pressure from the left. I happily travel 30 miles to your store in Madison, NJ and will continue to do so. You founded your store on the principals that made this country great, and you have every right to voice your opinion. There are more who agree with you, than disagree; we are not as vocal because we have a JOB to go to every morning'¦..But I think the tide is turning'¦</p>

Ravi V says …

<p>You just lost another customer'¦.Trader Joes rules unless their CEO writes moronic op-ed pieces like you.</p>

cory says …

<p>Unfortunately, mainstream supermarkets are full of unhealthy, heavily marketed products.</p> <p>It is unreasonable to blame people for buying what has been made most available to them by companies who prefer to keep consumers ignorant.</p>

S. Devga says …

<p>That quote from Mrs. Thatcher is interesting.</p> <p>Unfortunately you misquoted her.</p> <p>Margaret Thatcher, in a TV interview for Thames TV This Week [[1]]on Feb. 5, 1976, Prime Minister Thatcher said, ''¦and Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They [socialists] always run out of other people's money. It's quite a characteristic of them.'</p> <p>'The socialists ALWAYS run out of other people's money'</p> <p>But history has proven her wrong. The National Health system has been running for 61 years. They haven't run out of money yet.</p> <p>Good luck to you. You've neglected to build stores in strong conservative areas. Massachusetts alone has more stores than Utah, Missouri, Alabama, Arkanas, Louisiana and Kentucky combined. Mississippi and Alaska don't even have one between them.</p> <p>It's gong to take you years to build stores in conservative areas like Charlotte NC, while the existing stores in liberal areas like the Triangle, NC will decline.</p> <p>Bad business plan.</p> <p>But you've sold your stock. You don't care about the stock holders. </p> <p>History will prove you wrong just like it did to Mrs Thatcher.</p>

Bob Whiteman says …

<p>Mr. Mackey,</p> <p>You start out by indirectly labeling the current proposal by the Dems 'socialism,' framed by Thatcher's quote. Fine. It's also true that many of your workers and former employees have been kept alive by the good fortune of our nation's medicare plan, which is pure socialism, as is social security. And you realize that many aspects of our current economic system are rooted in socialism, if not pure socialism such as social security. It's fine that you've found a good fit for some of your employees'though I doubt that every employee, as you say, would agree with you.<br> It's funny'¦where was this outrage when our nation was pissing away billions if not trillions when it's all said and done on a war of lie in Iraq? At least the party in charge today is attempting to find a solution to a huge problem in America, which admittedly you agree with.<br> Half of the fools who are arguing against President Obama's efforts benefit from social security and/or medicare at this very moment; the other half have no idea what they are speaking about and keep arguing that 'Granny will die,' which ironically already happens when bean counters get their hands on our private plans.<br> You've drawn a line in the sand, sir, and many of us will now do the same thing. You've traded a lot for a few, and let's see how the right likes their arugala.</p>

James says …

<p>Firstly, I moved from Canada to the USA to be with my American wife. So I know exactly what the Canadian health care system is like. Stop the damned lies please.</p> <p>Secondly, the American health care system sucks big time. When I moved here I was denied coverage by Kaiser Permanente in California for a physical disability because of a military accident in Canada. Isn't it nice that you Americans can discriminate against people who have a disability? </p> <p>Thirdly, if there is anything I'd like to keep from Canada it would have been my medical coverage. At least I did not have to worry about anything. The Canadian medical system is great. I could go to any doctor in any clinic or even to any emergency room (when necessary) for FREE. No going bankrupt for anything. How you Americans can be proud of your medical system is astounding. I would hang my head in shame.</p> <p>Mr. Mackey'¦ You are clueless when it comes to what goes on in Canada. Before you speak nonsense you should actually do some research.</p> <p>BTW, Canada has a single payer medical system and it did not turn Canada into a socialist country. Jesus, you Americans make me sick with your 'socialist' rants. You have 'socialist' type medical systems in place with the military and Medicare for seniors. What's the problem?</p> <p>I don't understand why the government doesn't just extend Medicare to ALL citizens and permanent residents. It would be a very short bill to read in Congress instead of this ridiculous circus going on right now.</p>

Ronald Goldstein says …

<p>Your 'plan,' Mr Mackey, fails to address corruption at insurance companies. The answer to our health care problems lies not in less regulation. Too many people are cheated by insurance companies that cancel policies and refuse services. I have received refusals of service from insurance companies which were only rectified when I threatened legal action. Tort reform will not help consumers.</p> <p>You are wrong! And I am distressed to find out that you support a campaign against a public option for health insurance.</p> <p>My family spends about $10,000 a year at Whole Foods Market and now we are looking for an alternative. Maybe this is not important to you, but I have no other way to vote against your plan and your campaign.</p>

Tammie says …

<p>Appreciate your view and comments. My company subsidizes our HSA which really helps but we still must contribute to meet the deductible.</p> <p>I don't believe I should be required to pay for everyone else's health care, especially non-citizens. I'm pretty sure I'm already contributing to their care through the medical costs I pay. Hospitals and doctors must cover non-payment of services somehow. I realize that some people really hit hard times and can't pay their bills. I also realize that some people choose not to have insurance because they are young and healthy. Some are free-loading on the United States' good graces. Our government should not be involved in health care and managing that system. They generally aren't that great at managing business. Spending is currently out of control and they want to raise the deficit limit. It seems to me they've lost their minds and any common sense they may have had.</p> <p>I haven't shopped much at Whole Foods in the past because it is out of my way and more expensive. I'll be making more of an effort to shop Whole Foods now.</p>

Hank Lee says …

<p>Mr. Mackey, if one of your stores was robbed and your profits put in jeopardy, you would expect the law enforcement officials to respond to your pleas for help. That is what a compassionate society does for each other. Yet nowhere in the Constitution does it state that the gov't must provide security to protect your profits. Why not just have the market prevail? Contract out all your security needs to companies such as Xe and pay them on a monthly retainer or on a 'pay as you're robbed' basis. No need to have tax dollars go for law enforcement. I mean, are not income taxes socialism? </p> <p>I will be taking the $500/mth I currently spend at WF elsewhere, to a company that actually believes in supporting the society that so greatly enriches its coffers.</p>

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