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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Comments

ZeissMan says …

<p>Thank you John. It is time to speak the truth. See you tomorrow for sushi and some wine.</p>

Dorothy says …

<p>Your ideas about health care are typical of a rich, white Republican. You have no clue how it feels to be poor, self employed or have illness that prevent your getting health care. I will no longer shop at your store. Before you wrote this you should have thought about who buys your products.</p>

Sarah O'Dell says …

<p>Mr. Markey,</p> <p>You've just lost a loyal, longtime customer of Whole Foods who goes dates back to the days of Fresh Fields. I will never shop in Whole Foods again and will watch with interest to see how your comments and idealogy impact your business. It's unfortunate.</p>

Former Canadian Whole Foods customer says …

<p>Hello All, </p> <p>I want to make an important point regarding Mr. Mackey's Wall Street Journal article: I just researched the Investors Business Daily article John Mackey cites for his quotes regarding healthcare in Canada and England'you know, the part about 830,000 people waiting for medical treatment, or the '1.8 million deep' British people waiting for treatment at the hands of the 'heartless, cold and uncaring socialist bureaucrats'. So here is what I found out'¦</p> <p>So who wrote this article for Investors Business Daily? Nobody: no author is even cited! And oh, yeah: the Heritage Foundation (an infamous right wing think tank that counts among its ilk Karl Rove and Dick Cheney) is quoted as one of the sources for the highly dubious claims of higher mortality in European countries with socialized healthcare. To quote the Heritage Foundation on anything is to quote an extremely biased, neo-conservative pro-corporate think tank with an agenda. Hardly a trustworthy source of objective, scientific data on healthcare outcomes, Mr. Mackey.</p> <p>But there's more: Not only is NO AUTHOR cited for the Investor Business Daily article Mr. Mackey quotes from, but further NO CITATIONS are given for the so-called long waiting lines in Canada and Europe! For all we know these long lists are just made up'by a phantom author no less. </p> <p>Finally: can we trust Investor Business Daily'a stock market website'for objective, unbiased information on healthcare comparisons between USA and Canada/Europe? No, we can't: they are cheerleaders for American health insurance corporations and their stock holders.</p> <p>Mr. Mackey quotes bogus statistics without citations to verify, or quotes statistics from the militant right wink think tank Heritage Foundation'an article without an author! Little wonder Americans are so confused about healthcare reform: they are being fed lies and misinformation like Mr. Mackey is using in his Wall Street Journal article.</p>

Monique Mugg says …

<p>Thank you Mr. Mackey, I share your view and though there are no Whole Foods near me (wish there were), the next time I visit family in Chicago, I will frequent WF, as I always do. Your ideas are constructive and well thought out.</p>

Dennis Kelly says …

<p>Mr. Mackey,<br> This formerly very loyal Whole Foods customer will not shop there again as long as Mr. Mackey opposes the Obama health care reform plan.</p>

Nick says …

<p><strong>personal attack</strong> Who do you have astroturfing your comments? Because they're bad at it.</p> <p>By the time you got to 'The problem with socialism'¦' in terms of the health care debate, you were already off the deep edge where me and mine are concerned. Thatcher's England HAD SOCIALIZED MEDICINE. All developed countries have socialized medicine, including ours (Medicare? Medicaid?). The WSJ didn't edit the shortsightedness, knee-jerk conservatism, or brutal unwillingness to help the sick and needy into your op-ed ' they just took out your boneheaded 1998 infographic.</p>

Marcia F, Hall says …

<p>To the Board: Greetings from Colorado. Well, until today I have been a loyal WF customer for years and years, at three stores here in Denver Metro and at two in Northern California. But guess what? I am done. Isn't it curious that a man whose firm is so health oriented is also opposed to public healthcare??</p> <p>During the campaign of 2008, there were rumors circulating that WF was owned by Republicans who were in support of the McCain/Palin ticket. I asked a longtime clerk at the store and was told that such was not the case, whew! for me. But I guess it was too good to be true. Or at least, no matter what the political bent of Mr. Markey, he is not a very good citizen to his fellow Americans. 'Bye.</p>

Carol Nissenson says …

<p>I spend about $6000 a year at Whole Foods between groceries and catering. I will never spend a dime with you again. This is not a 'boycott', it is a personal choice, and those who feel differently are free to make their choices. I wouldn't want my money going to pay your salary, anymore than I would want to help Glenn Beck. I assure you there are many more people in Northwest DC and Silver Spring who feel as I do, than those who share your perspective.</p>

Bryan says …

<p>John,</p> <p>You have earned LEGIONS of new Conservative shoppers through your excellent op-ed piece.</p> <p>They have a lot of money to spend. If you continue to offer the the excellent Whole Foods experience, they will be yours for life.</p> <p>Never, ever be afraid to speak your mind when speaking with integrity and honesty, for there are literally tens of millions who agree with you.</p> <p>Do not let the 'negative' press from the left-wing media cause to back down at all. For while articles may highlight 'the bus rider who has gone to WF faithfully for years and will no longer', there are thousands more of us to replace him.</p> <p>I will be sure to make a note to head back over to WF very soon. Your rotisserie chicken is the best!</p> <p>Keep up the great work in defending the free-market principles that made this nation what it is.</p>

jean says …

<p>Unfortunately, those who are uninsured or underinsured, in most cases, cannot afford to shop in Whole Food, or live in the areas where Whole Food stores are located. Also, once again, facts about a bill is wrong. There are currently five bills in both houses (3 in Congress, 2 in Senate). There is still a lengthy process in conference in order to get them into one bill.</p>

jim atmadison says …

<p>Pure, simple, selfish, shortsighted, dishonest balderdash.</p> <p>I will never set foot in your University Avenue store again. I'm very glad you didn't put a new store in the Hilldale Mall because it looks bad to have a new store die a quick death.</p> <p>Who do you think your customers are? The deathers? Do you think the well-educated, liberal, community-oriented university crowd that has supported your store will take kindly to this?</p>

David Brisker says …

<p>A) I doubtThe Wall Street Journal 'Twisted' Mr. Mackey's words. Mr. Mackey was critical of the reform effort and called it 'Socialism'. The WSJ is owned by Fox Newscorp and is sympathetic to this opinion. B) My dad was a business owner and was asked his political opinion all the time. He had many strong opinions. He kept them to himself, and shared them only with close friends. This is because he realized that as a business owner, his customers were Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, as well as liberals &amp; conservatives. He understood that voicing his opinion could cost him customers. Mr. Mackey would have done well to keep out of the fray. He is entitled to his opinion, entitled to speak his mind as a citizen to his representatives in DC, but to have his opinion published was not a wise choice. He has alienated his base. Let's face it. I am sure folks on both sides of the issue shop at Whole Foods, but I am willing to bet the lions share are Liberals who are most interested in the kind of products found at Whole Foods.</p>

Dianne S. says …

<p>Yes, Mr. Mackey, you are able to offer your opinion about health care reform. People like you are highly influential given your power, (translation money). Your customers can tell you what they think about your opinion by shopping elsewhere which is the only influence that we have. You clearly don't know much about the demographics of your core group of faithful customers. Your lack of support for a reform measure that will help so many will end up affecting your bottom line. You've made millions already and can buy the best coverage in terms of healthcare, so I guess it doesn't matter to you anyway. It matters to me, my family and friends, and we will let you know this the best way we know how; with our wallets.</p>

Garth says …

<p>I applaud Mr. Mackey for adding to the health care debate. I already shop at Whole Foods and will continue to do so to show my support.</p>

James says …

<p>@ Tammie</p> <p>Medical coverage should NOT be profit oriented. That is so incredibly WRONG.</p>

Jim C. says …

<p>I, for one, will not be shopping for my organic foods at Whole Foods ever again. Thankfully, here in Akron, Ohio, we have the Mustard Seed Market, and I do not have to depend on Whole Foods for my organic needs. How sad that the CEO of a company that promotes good health also promotes the idea that everyone in this country should not have equal access to health insurance. Obviously, this is one CEO that is leeching off of those who desire to live a healthy lifestyle, rather than a CEO that actually BELIEVES in the product and the philosophy that he is selling. How disgusting.</p>

Roy says …

<p>At last! A contribution to the healthcare debate from a bona fide Liberal!</p> <p>Medical care will improve and become more affordable by maximizing personal choice, sharply curtailing third-party interference in the competitive free market, and eliminating 'lawsuit lotto' legal actions.</p> <p>I'm going to frequent Whole Foods a lot more often in the future.</p>

alan says …

<p>Sorry Mr. Mackey'¦too late. I will be joining the boycott.</p>

Jamee says …

<p>I agree with Laura ' </p> <p>I am an infrequent shopper of Whole Foods, but after reading your op-ed, and particularly after reading the attacks against you, I will be making a point of shopping at your store more often. Keep up the good fight!</p> <p>And I would like to add that I LOVE my HSA! It has given me more freedom in my healthcare choices. Also, I would like to state that most HSA plans allow for a FREE yearly Physical and additional WELL CARE appointments. It is the best healthcare reform that this country has seen in decades!</p>

Bob says …

<p>Thank you for posting your opinion. It is amazing how many people want the 'MAN' to run their entire life for them. We need only look to MOST of rest of the world to see what Socialism will bring us. I loved the comment by our neighbor from the north that now lives here. Canada is certainly the model for public health care and NON-SOCIALIST country ' PLEASE. Any way, thanks for speaking up. I just hope the silent, deadly silent majority of working America will FINALLY wake up and refuse to be led down the path to perdition that we are on. Trust me, Barack, Nancy, their crew, and the blind followers that believe they are on the yellow brick road to OZ do not have the answer to the proverbial question!!! Keep up the good fight, I am a fan now!</p>

Jim Hoff says …

<p>I, for one, will be a new customer because you have the courage to state your opinion. In America we still have free speech and you excersized it.<br> If we, as Americans, don't stop the nonsense that is going on in Washington we will also lose freedom of speech. I wish more business people would speak out.<br> Jim Hoff<br> Glendale AZ</p>

Kelly says …

<p>Everyone should ask John why he went to an HDHP plan. Yes, it has the pre-tax HSA but I am guessing it was becuase his premiums were so high that he had no choice. Also, ask him what his employee's out of pocket max limits are. Another example of how Americans continue to be under-insured while paying higher and higher premiums. More and more insurance companies are openly reporting that HDHP plans are not driving down healthcare cost, esp in the small business arena. And to the bigger question for you and your board ' why did you write this? Stick to overpriced fruits and veggies.</p>

FMPerry says …

<p>You know I am amazed at all of this. I work as an health insurance agent and I cannot tell you all how many people I meet in my travels that do not have any health insurance and are suffering. I wish they would have a public option to help the people I meet because the company I work for would rather be a part of the problem than be apart of the solution. Thank goodness, I have socialized medicine at the VA because I would not be able to afford any health.</p>

James says …

<p>@ Mr. Mackey</p> <p>You sir are so wrong. Canada has what is called the 'Canada Health Act.' </p> <p>The Canada Health Act states in the preamble that the objective of Canadian Health Care policy is 'that continued access to quality health care without financial or other barriers will be critical to maintaining and improving the health and well-being of Canadians.The primary objective of the Act is 'to protect, promote and restore the physical and mental well-being of residents of Canada and to facilitate reasonable access to health services without financial or other barriers.' (Section 3).</p> <p>As you can see, Canadians do have a LEGAL right to health care coverage regardless of their financial status. Where I come from (Manitoba) you have basic coverage for all. That is free. If you want to get extended coverage for things like having your own hospital room, cable tv, etc., you get Blue Cross, etc. extended coverage. Simple and that is the way it should be in the United States.</p>

Peter Leeflang says …

<p>Dear Mr. Mackey,</p> <p>Thanks you for speaking up, just like Alam Miller did of Universal Health Services.</p> <p>We need more businessmen like you to speak out against socialized medicine and for individual health care insurance.</p> <p>Of course I will be thanking you as well by buying more frequently at your stores, especially now that one opens in Dedham.</p> <p>Just one request: Please bring the plastic bags back as the paper bags fall apart in rain and snow and cannot be bound tight. I know it is tough on you in the current 'green mania', but a good example by you in that area my mean a lot of relief for your buyers.</p>

pjean says …

<p>You have done nothing wrong, Mr. Mackey. Some people believe that if you have a differing opinion, you must be silenced. Reasonable Americans believe otherwise.</p>

Tim Callahan says …

<p>Mr. Mackey:</p> <p>-Thank you for making your opinions known, because I could not (in good conscience) support a store like Whole Foods, knowing that their leadership is so bereft of common sense. I will NEVER step foot in one of your stores ever again.</p>

brenty says …

<p>Wow. What a shame that I have to stop shopping at Whole Foods. I refuse to spend my money to support a person with your views. I am going to pass the word in my 'liberal' community as well. I was in Whole Foods today. Who would have guessed that it would have been my last time?</p>

Louis Gelb says …

<p>I'm sure the loss of our business won't impact your company adversely but my wife and I cannot in good conscience continue to shop at Whole Foods.</p>

Tammy M says …

<p>Mr. Markey<br> It is so unfortunate that you are so far out of touch with your customer base. Who did you think were the prime consumers of your organic products??? The conservatives that want to drill for oil within the National Parks system?? I would never think about spending another dime at Whole Foods under your management.</p>

J. King says …

<p>Bye, bye John, we are now shopping at the Fresh Market. To our surprise, it is better than WholeFoods</p>

Akiko says …

<p>You'll loose me. I've been talking to my friends WFM was a wonderful place to shop. But now it won't be like that anymore.</p>

Andrew says …

<p>Thank you for contributing something of substance to the national debate. </p> <p>I'm puzzled at the reactionary response you've received from some, but emotion seems to override reason all too quickly these days. Would that your critics would disagree with what you say yet be willing to fight to the death for your right to say it. Considering their seeming willingness to cash in their liberty for a piece of 'security,' it should come as no surprise what a low value they place on a fellow concerned citizen's freedom of speech.</p> <p>My wife and I have never really been 'Whole Foods shoppers.' I can assure you (and your detractors) that we are now.</p>

yobaby says …

<p>first things first'¦I WILL BE SHOPPING MORE AT WHOLE FOODS FROM NOW ON!!!!! High 5 &amp; fist bump to mr. mackey!!!!! </p> <p>i find it interesting that for every 'i heart Canadian health care' story, i have heard 10 distressing stories of the Canadian system. Not good'¦and just as mr. mackey points out'¦we have quite a larger population than Canada or the UK. it is an administrative nightmare, not to mention how well our government runs things'¦oh, and let's not forget the corruption that is synonymous with washington dc'¦</p> <p>why we would hand over the reigns to one governmental body with greedy/corrupted intentions'¦which, btw, cannot be sued by you'¦scary! and'¦if health care is a 'right', then why on god's green earth would there be the inevitable rationing that will come down the pike. the government then cannot deny me whatever procedure i want'¦right? LOL!!!!!</p> <p>i will end with a big THANK YOU to this courageous and thoughtful article'¦go get'em tiger!!!</p>

Thomas Steele says …

<p>Dear Mr. Mackey,</p> <p> I'm certainly pleased to know what you think regarding the intrinsic 'right' to food clothing and health care. It's good to know that this is the mentality behind Whole Foods. I can assure you I will no longer be shopping at my local Whole Foods here in Tucson. I will also be lending as much syupport as I can to the soon to be announced national boycott of Whole Foods.<br> We should be helping each other sir, not turning our backs on those fellow citizens in need, like the 20,000 or so Americans who die each year because of lack of accessable and affordable quality healthcare.<br> You should be ashamed'¦.your views are not patriotic, not in the least.</p>

Doug says …

<p>I think your ideas for health care 'reform' are just plain insulting to a man who has 2 jobs and still can't afford to get insurance.</p> <p>Maybe I'm just too poor for your store, I'll have to shop somewhere else.</p>

Robert says …

<p>Here's the email I sent to Whole Foods this morning. Nothing Mr. Mackey has written subsequently has changed my mind (equating health care reform with that fear-mongering word 'socialism' is particularly egregious):</p> <p>'I will no longer shop at Whole foods. Here is why. While the company'in part through its moniker 'whole' and its claim to value community'implies that it is more about selling commodities, John Mackey's WSJ editorial shows that the store is really just about the market. If you can sell healthy food, great. If you can afford health insurance (like healthy food) that the market provides, great. Apparently, you can make a profit selling healthy food. You can also make a profit selling insurance, but not everyone will be able to afford it. Being satisfied with that is not looking at the 'whole' picture, but only at the bottom line. Shame on your CEO.'</p>

E G says …

<p>I am dismayed by this article, in both versions. It starts out as a reasonable enough set of suggestions (though I don't agree with all of them), but then takes a very disturbing turn, and there are three points I think need addressing:</p> <p>1) For all the limitations of the NHS, it still provides a basic safety net for every person in Britain. Yes, those that can afford to typically 'top up' with private insurance, but those that can't still have access to doctors and hospitals and preventative care, instead of having to wait till a problem becomes critical to get any care at all, and then risk being bankrupted by it. To focus on the shortcomings only misrepresents the system horribly, and misses how much more civilised it is than a wholly private healthcare 'system'.</p> <p>2) I'm deeply disgusted by your victim-blaming. Yes, many health problems are avoidable, and good public health policy is a much cheaper (and in the long term, more effective) way to tackle those. But many illnesses'not to mention injuries'are not caused by any circumstance under the individual's control. Be it inheritance, sheer bad luck, or subtler social problems like the extreme difficulty of actually getting healthy food in the poorest district of pretty much any American city (hrm'¦ there's something constructive Whole Foods could actually help with if you're so inclined), many people are sick through circumstances entirely beyond their control. Your proposal would do nothing to help them, and merely rubs salt into the wound with a dose of blame for their misfortune.</p> <p>I take this part personally because I am one of these people. In my 20s, while in fine health'not only eating well but training hard at martial arts and doing just about everything right'I was struck by a chronic illness for which the only known risk factor is that it's more common in richer countries than poorer ones. Thank heavens I lived in Britain at the time and had the NHS available to treat me. And thank heavens that since moving to the US, I've been one of the privileged people with access to an employer health plan that is forced by law to accept pre-existing conditions. If I lose that privilege, whether through unemployment or through a change in the law, I will have to move back to Britain because there's no way I (as half of a household earning well above the US median household income, with no dependents) can afford my maintenance medications without insurance cover. And that still makes me a relatively privileged person, because at least I have the option of moving back to a country with a civilised health care system ' without that, the expected outcome would be death from complications of a condition that is perfectly manageable, _to those who can afford the enormous cost of the meds_. I hope you understand the gravity of this point: adequate health care is not some piffling luxury for a person in my position, but the difference between dying young and being able to live a full life, with a chronic illness that is fully under control most of the time.</p> <p>3) In a way this is the most disappointing of all, given that it seems so inconsistent with how you run your company and treat your employees: I'm saddened by the lack of ambition revealed by suggesting that only things spelled out in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence count as rights. Do you really mean to suggest that we should aspire for nothing more for our fellow human beings than could have been imagined centuries ago, when slavery was a social norm, no-one had indoor plumbing or electricity, and there was no such thing as evidence-based medicine? Why should poverty shut people out of the immense gains we have had from a century of medical science? And do you think we'd even have anything like the Constitution or Declaration of Independence if the founding fathers had allowed themselves to be similarly unambitious?</p> <p>There's a lot of hotheaded talk about boycotting Whole Foods among my social circle right now (many of whom, including myself, have been very loyal customers of yours for as long as we've been able to afford your prices). I'm not sure whether I'm going to join that or not, but I can tell you that you've lost a few of my friends' business already, and I'm wavering. For me it really hinges upon how much I believe that the association with the Whole Foods brand was the work of some dastardly editor at News Corporation, as opposed to your original intent from which you're just trying to climb down to save face. I don't have to agree with or like the CEO of a company to shop there, but if I feel that their brand is being used to advance an agenda that endangers my welfare, then I certainly don't want any of my money going to support that.</p>

J. Fields says …

<p>Mr. Mackey:</p> <p>I will no longer shop in a store whose CEO has such a pompous, self righteous and erroneous view of the health care crisis in the US or the National Health system in the UK. Sitting where you are, Mr. Mackey I can guarantee you have excellent health care coverage. Do your employees, as well? As an RN who works with patients in the end stages of life, I can tell you from my experience that health care is a RIGHT of all citizens, and not for those fortunate enough to have a job. Take a look at other people's struggles, Mr. Mackey and cultivate something you lack'¦empathy and compassion.</p> <p>J. Fields, RN</p>

Dawn says …

<p>THANK YOU!!! I have never shopped at Whole Foods, but will make it a point to try to shop at your store from now on'¦. just to make sure I cancel out someone who is boycotting a store just because someone voiced some alternatives to health care policy. Re-read this people'¦ he is NOT putting anyone down!!! How can people be getting upset over this!</p>

John C. Randolph says …

<p>' Those lawsuits are the reason our food supply is safe. '</p> <p>Not even close. </p> <p>The reason our food supply is safe, is because selling unsafe food is a disaster for any business. Look how much Jack-in-the-box lost a couple of years ago when they had that food poisoning incident. The market deals far more damage to a slipshod operation that lets contaminated food get through, than they would ever lose in court.</p> <p>-jcr</p>

Beth Fletcher says …

<p>I have a very good friend who died of kidney cancer without the benefit of health insurance or care.</p> <p>In her honor I promise to tell at least one person every day NOT to shop in your stores. I am perfectly capable of losing you seven long time customers in your Montclair store today.</p> <p>It's a bit of a hardship for me but the new Fairway looks great. I'll be giving them a rave review and trashing your 'organic' fare. I sincerely hope that your company tanks.</p>

LindaP says …

<p>I am sure any business you lose will be gained by those that agree with you or are opened minded and will at least listen to reason and discuss compromises.</p> <p>Your store in Richmond is 20 miles from me but I will gladly drive that far and just stock up when I am there. I will encourage my like friends who also oppose this government takeover to do the same.</p> <p>Thank you for standing up for what is right for this country and its people.</p>

Sandra Nelson says …

<p>John Mackey, Your store has received the last dollar from my family. I want to thank you for showing your true opinion of humanity. You are out of touch with many of your customers, and do not deserve the position you hold.</p>

tom harner says …

<p>Dear John Mackey</p> <p>My wife and I have been advocates of single payer since 1992-when we met Paul Wellstone at the Democratic National Convention. Since then, we have been active in The Pennsylvania 4 Progress Bills now in the State House of Pennsylvania- P4P.</p> <p>This bill is funded by a 10 percent tax on all businesses, and a 3 percent tax on all state residents. It includes alternative medicine, as well as long term care, dental, and eyewear. It has great bi-partisan support in both houses of the Pa. Legislation.</p> <p>It is not tied in to your place of employment. Employers will save money and have great coverage. Citizens will be able to make health car choices, and the federal government will not go bankrupt.</p> <p>I would welcome your investigation into our plan, and your feed-back would be appreciated. I would also like to encourage corporate support for alternative therapies within the bill.</p> <p>The health insurance industry has dictated our health care policy for generations-suppressing healthy living issues, and alternative modalities-while rationing and depriving care to millions of citizens.</p> <p>99 percent of Canadians would not trade their health coverage for ours-I noticed that you did not use Canada as an example in your blog. The Pa. plan-more closely resembles this plan than the European Plans.</p> <p>Whole Foods and Whole Health are intricately woven. Affordability is a factor in both cases. When accessibility is 100 percent-education in right living can have a paradigm shifting impact. When uncovered and denied benefits are not bankrupting families, they can afford to eat better and live better.</p> <p>I appreciate your good work and corporate responsibility.</p> <p>Tom Harner</p>

Andrew C says …

<p>Bravo Mackey.</p> <p>Yours is a voice of courage and integrity.</p>

Allen Wood says …

<p>Mr. Mackey, people who shop at Whole Foods are overwhelmingly supporters of health care reform. We feel betrayed by your opposition to this urgently needed legislation and you will lose our business.</p>

Marsha says …

<p>I've been shopping at Whole Foods ever since they opened in Palatine, IL. I'd rather buy less and get higher quality, particularly with fruits, meats and fish. But as a healthcare worker for 36 years I've watched it evolve from a not for profit system to our current system of big business and corporate greed. It is a system that has run many physicians into early retirement, because the fatigue of dealing with insurance companies takes its toll. I believe that everyone who pays taxes in this country deserves to have basic healthcare. My only argument with Obama is that the only way to get special interests out of my doctor's office is to run a single payer public system. We currently have a system where there is no incentive for an insurance company to pay OUT'¦and the harder they make it, the more likely people will give up and pay it themselves or not have a test they need. Medicare already is the single decider for tests being approved. It has to pass muster with medicare before an indication and a test are ok'd by an insurance company. So, given a choice, would I rather have the so-called government doing what they already do'¦.decide if a test is necessary'¦ or a $9 an hour clerk working for an insurance company, telling my doctors office that they won't approve something that should have been approved. The best way the system would save money is to take all of these middlemen out of it- integrate medicare and medicaid and provide equal access to all and make it the not for profit system it should be. It amazes me when the money men talk'¦when money stands in the way of what is the right thing to do.<br> Well'¦MY money will go to Trader Joes' now'at least until their CEO shows his true colors and his insensitivity to his customer base.</p>

Lewis Wilson says …

<p>You really have no idea what your saying regarding health care. You simply do not understand the economics of it. I've been shopping at Whole Foods Stores for fifteen years and currently spend $1200-$1500/mo at the two Phoenix stores nearby. I cannot continue to do so. You are no better than those like thye Limbaughs of the world who would rip this country apart because of ignorance, stupidity and/or greed.<br> L.A.W.</p>

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