In Health Care Debate, There Is a Third Way

If you have missed the dust up over the column in the Wall Street Journal by John Mackey (CEO of Whole Foods) about health care reform. He argues that the right answer is not doing nothing, nor is it the sweeping government takeover of healthcare currently proposed. He points out that:

At Whole Foods we allow our team members to vote on what benefits they most want the company to fund. Our Canadian and British employees express their benefit preferences very clearly — they want supplemental 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 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.

So instead he offers 8 reforms to the healthcare system that he argues would solve its major problems and “greatly lower the cost of healthcare for everyone” without bringing on a host of new ones. Here they are in bullets–click through to his column to see his explanation and justification for each.

– Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs).

– Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits.

– Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines.

– Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover.

– Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

– Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost.

– Enact Medicare reform.

– Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Alas, for trying to brings some reasonable suggestions to the debate, Mackey has been vilified by supporters of Congress’s current plan, including attempts to organize boycotts of Whole Foods.

You’d think ideas from the CEO of one of the most socially responsible corporations in the nation, who works cooperatively with his employees to agree on benefit packages would be a welcome alternative to plans proffered by health insurance companies of politicians and lawyers.

I know that I think he has laid out a very attractive 3rd way.