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John Mackey's Healthcare Nonsense



January 22, 2013 – Comments (3) | RELATED TICKERS: WFM

The point that John Mackey and other harsh critics of Obamacare seem unable or unwilling to grasp is that pre-Obamacare, we did not have a market-based system.  Even if you completely eliminated Medicare and Medicaid, the remainder was still not anything resembling a market-based system.  The only way you can have a truly market-based healthcare system is to turn away anyone and everyone who arrives at the doors of an ER without adequate health insurance.  Unless we as a society are willing to let people without sufficient health insurance die in the streets, the net effect is Whole Foods, Wal-Mart and all American corporations are getting a free ride on the backs of everyone who pays taxes and/or carries health insurance. 

Obamacare is a tentative first step toward healthcare reform.  It's what was politically possible at the time, and it is an improvement over what we had before.  It will improve society-wide health and save some lives.  It does not come anywhere close to adequately addressing our problem with exploding healthcare costs, but neither have any competing plans, to the extent that any serious ones have been offered.  Shifting a major portion of costs onto the backs of an already-strapped middle class is not an acceptable "reform".  I am sympathetic to many libertarian arguments, but because it directly involves human mortality, healthcare is uniquely ill-suited to a strict libertarian approach. 

Fear of the unknown is easily exploited by those who profit from the status quo.  It will likely prevent us from seriously addressing the cost of healthcare in America until we get right up against (or over) the baby boomer abyss.  However, shouting that Obamacare is the problem, much less an example of fascism, is both factually wrong and a very unwise choice for the CEO of a company that does not sell exclusively to a conservative clientele.  As a Whole foods customer and stockholder, I am dismayed and angry at Mackey's comments.  I will be selling my WFM stock, and will look to shop at alternate retailers whenever possible.  I hear my town will be getting a Trader Joe's soon.

3 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On January 23, 2013 at 12:51 AM, DrGoldin (99.07) wrote:

I agree, he's off his rocker about this.  I saw him on Bloomberg recently; he was trying to blame the media for blowing his comments out of proportion.  One of the Bloomberg crew immediately pointed out that he used the word "fascism," and he had to concede that that was incendiary.

I want CEO's to talk about business.  They're usually pretty astute about business.  I don't want them to talk about politics.  They're usually NOT very astute about politics.  When they start broadcasting their crackpot political views (the guy from Papa John's pizza is another one), it only makes me less confident of their business.

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#2) On January 23, 2013 at 9:39 AM, drgroup (66.42) wrote:

Obamacare is a tentative first step toward healthcare reform

Are you high or just stupid?  Over 70% of our citizens realized obamacare is a disaster. I hope you are one of the first to need a procedure at the hospital and have some idiot federal beuracrat filing her nails while she blows bubbles, tell the hospital you can not have your tonsiles out but she will OK a vasectomy.

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#3) On January 23, 2013 at 5:11 PM, RobTAK (< 20) wrote:

"Over 70% of our citizens realized obamacare is a disaster."  Considering that this is the Motley Fool and numbers matter, can we avoid allowing our political views overide the actual numbers.  In the latest Rasmussen poll, "Most voters still aren’t sure if their state has created a health care exchange as a requirement of President Obama’s national health care law, but support for creating one is up slightly from last month. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 49% of Likely U.S. Voters now would like to see their state set up a health care exchange to assist with the implementation of the health care law. That’s up three points from December."  While it does not directly reference the percentage of Americans who believe "obamacare is a disaster" it would be difficult to assume that 70% is a real number given the percentage of people who believe that their state should set up a health care exchange.  Also, can we be civil here.

Secondly, this particular thread is only about Mackey's political views of Health Care Reform.  I want to know is this really an issue for him?  Whole Foods provides health care to its employees.  He offers data-based reductions in health care costs to employees who meet various criteria.  He offers courses to help employees meet the bio-metric criteria for discounts.  It is funded in-house which means that Mackey may need to restructure his health care program either by creating an employee supervised trust (making it a quasi-union health-care plan) so he avoids penalties under the Act.  I am also not certain he can do this, so it would be helpful for this blog to determine how self-funded companies can restructure health-care under the Act so they are compliant and what kinds of costs Mackey would incur in order to do this.  Given Mackey's committment to employee health, I can understand his response to Obamacare.  His firm was out front on the issue and the law left him out.  But let's keep our eye on the money, costs, and how it affects the bottom line.


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