The CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey, offers several good suggestions on how the country can improve health care without turning it over to Congress. He also describes Whole Foods’ healthcare plan, which sounds smart.
(Is it? Any feedback from anyone who works in a Whole Foods family?)
John Mackey, WSJ: 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 move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction—toward less government control and more individual empowerment. Here are eight reforms that would greatly lower the cost of health care for everyone:
• 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. 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.
This plan sounds great. And improving access to HSAs and high-deductibility plans is an excellent idea. Speaking personally, we were very excited about HSAs when we first heard about them. For whatever reason, though (probably a combination of New York laws and big-insurance profit concerns), they were offered only by rinky-dink insurance companies we had never heard of.
• equalise the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. Now employer health insurance benefits are fully tax deductible, but individual health insurance is not. This is unfair.
This one’s a no-brainer. It’s outrageous and unfair that insurance is tax-deductible for those who happen to work for big companies and not tax deductible for those who don’t.
• 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 insurance wherever we live. Health insurance should be portable.
Another no-brainer. Do we live in the 1800s? Why on earth do states get to make up their own laws about this?
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