Saturday, October 3, 2009

Healthcare: Reasonable Solutions

I research things. That's how I roll. My friend's sometimes smile and say, "I'll bet you did some research..." (I've got a reputation.)

My dad taught be to have a healthy disregard for authority. The 60's influenced me as well. So when a debate arises that I care about, I check things out. I dig a bit.

Doing research in the arena of health care, I've found well-reasoned opinions of people I respect. Once such opinion and person is John Mackey. I've been a subscriber to his weekly newsletter for six months or so. He's a thinker and a writer who consistently makes sense. He lives in the real world: He's the CEO of Whole Foods Market, Inc. He writes about life, often based on life in the work-a-day world, but with wider application.

Recently he authored a op-ed piece on healthcare that ran in the Wall Street journal. His article obviously touched some nerves, as it generated quite a lot of press and even a bit of a boycott. Why? He questioned the authorities and shared some ideas based on his own research and experience.

Here's an excerpt of five key improvements needed in the arena of health care that he sees:

• Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover. These mandates have increased the cost of health insurance by billions of dollars. What is insured and what is not insured should be determined by individual customer preferences and not through special-interest lobbying.

• Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. These costs are passed back to us through much higher prices for health care.

• Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost. How many people know the total cost of their last doctor's visit and how that total breaks down? What other goods or services do we buy without knowing how much they will cost us?

• Enact Medicare reform. We need to face up to the actuarial fact that Medicare is heading towards bankruptcy and enact reforms that create greater patient empowerment, choice and responsibility.

• 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.

I've seen these ideas echoed elsewhere, but Mackey lays them out clearly and succinctly.

His arguments make sense... unlike many I've heard, in part because Mackey has done his homework, walked the talk, and taken the time to form an intelligent opinion.

He's my kind of guy. I learn stuff from him.


  1. Thanks for doing all this research! Very interesting breakdown of these potential improvements. With proper analysis and application, effective long term change can occur. Let's pray that it does.

  2. @September: I'm glad you appreciate the research. I enjoyed doing it. The greater challenge, as always, is organizing my thoughts into writing. A writer once said, "I really don't know what I think until I write." (paraphrase) I have one more piece on insurance... then, I'm on to other topics.