Fueled by a typically deliberate misrepresentation of the facts by the Huffington Post, "illiberals" in the blogosphere are trying to launch a boycott against Whole Foods because of an op-ed piece CEO John Mackey wrote in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.
Proponents of the boycott point to Mackey’s supposed insensitivity for suggesting that people should take responsibility for their own health by eating healthful foods, exercising, and avoiding things like alcohol and tobacco. To whom is the suggestion of personal responsibility offensive? Only to liberals who believe — uniformly — that the government is wiser than its citizens and should thus direct their every act.
Let’s look at the rest of Mackey’s article — the real plan that the people who write the Huffington Post and other liberal blogs would like to keep you from taking seriously. It’s based on the benefits package that his company provides for its team members and it is, in every particular, better than what we’ve been told about Obamacare.
First, Whole Foods provides health insurance and pays 100 % of the premiums for any employee working 30 hours a week — a whopping 89 % of its work force. Hardly a reason to boycott a company and put many of those people out of work.
Mackey’s plan relies on a combination of high-deductible insurance for major medical needs–injuries, diseases, and chronic conditions — and personal savings accounts to cover average health needs — check-ups, flu, ear infections, etc. Insensitive? Too expensive for the worker? But wait — Whole Foods funds the employees’ savings accounts to pay their deductibles! According to the article, Whole Foods "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." And this deserves a boycott?
Here’s how it works, and how it could work for any American:
It begins with a high-deductible insurance policy. Under this plan, insurance premiums are much lower — as much as half the cost of so-called "full-coverage" or low-deductible plans–because most people don’t have catastrophic illnesses and injuries each year and thus don’t "use" their insurance. Insurance companies can then do what insurance companies are supposed to do — amass funds during good years to cover losses during bad years.
Meanwhile, people literally "save the difference" in their premiums by setting aside money in a government-authorized "Health Savings Account" and drawing on those savings whenever health needs occur. In good years, the funds roll over to the next year. In bad years, the funds in the HSA are available to cover deductibles until the insurance coverage kicks in. The money belongs to the individual, not to the insurance company.
Under this system, users have an incentive to look for the most appropriate care for each specific problem, and at the best cost. Health care providers have an incentive to offer the best quality care at a lower cost. Best of all, the insurance company can stand aside on day-to-day issues. No longer do you have to ask your insurance company whether your dentist or acupuncturist or ob/gyn is covered. It’s your HSA, and it’s up to you to decide how to spend it.
If you get sick, you’re covered. And if you don’t get sick, you get to keep the money in your HSA until you do get sick. Either way, it’s a great program for the user, and a cheaper program for the company. It works for large companies, small companies, and the self-employed. Everyone wins. Except those who want the government to control the health care system.
Boycott Whole Foods? Ridiculous! That will only hurt the employees who will be let go when sales drop. I suggest an anti-boycott. Let’s call it "An Apple for your Health." Go to your local Whole Foods today and buy an apple. Tell the clerk you’re buying the apple for their health — to keep their jobs and their health care in place. And enjoy the apple–it will be good for your health, too.