Mackey the Knife

13 08 2009

So, the lovely and talented Sharkfu, purveyor of awesomesauceness over at her blog, hipped me (via the Facebook) to this opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal online, by John Mackey, the Co-Founder and CEO of Whole Foods (or as we refer to it in my household, Whole Paycheck).

In it he has offered some options (unlike the Republicans – so he gets ½ a point for that) for health-care reform that move us away from what is slowly being worked through Congress right now.

And let me say, he should just go ahead and change the name of his company to Whole Crazy and be done with it.
In the words of my manGirlcrush, Kai Wright: “Ew.”
In the words of my fictional girlfriend, Liz Lemon: “what the what?”

Let’s get it crack-a-lacking, shall we?

Option 1.
Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs).

Because when people can barely afford health-care on their currently health insurance plans with a modest deductible they are in the perfect position to opt for plans which ask them to foot more of the bill upfront.

RedHeaded Stepchild and I got health insurance after years of not having any when I started my new job at a non-profit.  The last time I was covered by health insurance, I had a $250 deductible and pretty okay coverage.  It was perfect for where I was in my life.  Our current deductible is $1,000 (and that’s only because it’s just the two of us [right now]).  That is a lot for us.  But we’ve got a plan to stick with this one until we decide to have the kid and kick up to the plan with the higher premium.

Mr. Miggiddy Mack here is pretty much bragging about how the employees of Whole Foods – a grocery store – are responsible for shelling out for their $2,500 deductible.  Apparently, he feels that, “This creates incentives to spend the first $2,500 more carefully.”  I feel that this creates system where people are choosing between overpriced groceries or having that strange bump checked out.

That’s not the kind of choice you want after spending hours in the crowded aisles of Whole Foods.

Option 3.
Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines.

John McCain was in favor of something like this, right?  I guess this kind of thinking makes sense when you are unaffected by the rising cost of health coverage because you’re super-wealthy and you already have a pretty sweet plan.

United Healthcare is everywhere.  Aetna is everywhere.  And everywhere there are people who cannot afford coverage.

Allowing insurance companies to compete across state lines doesn’t guarantee anything to those who can’t currently afford insurance.  Who cares if you can get a lower price for an HMO in New Jersey if none of your doctors in New York are covered?

Option 4.
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.

I hope that the “special-interest lobbying” that Mick-Mack Paddywack is talking about is Viagra but I suspect that he’s talking about abortion.  I also suspect that he’s talking about coverage for domestic partners.  Access to the most robust options for health care for all is not “special-interest lobbying”.  It’s common sense.

Option 6.
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?

Oh, sweet!  Make costs transparent so that the poor and undeserving know exactly how much they can’t afford to pay to get their children vaccinated.
Make costs transparent so they can see just how much of their hard earned-shelf stocking money is going into the pockets of some doctor who is running as many tests as he can to buy himself that new leather sofa set.
Make costs transparent, so that when some of us are paying our $2,500 deductible we get to see just how little that buys us.
Good plan Mack-Daddy!

But the real beauty of Le Big Mack comes after his options.

Unfortunately many of our health-care problems are self-inflicted: two-thirds of Americans are now overweight and one-third are obese. Most of the diseases that kill us and account for about 70% of all health-care spending—heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and obesity—are mostly preventable through proper diet, exercise, not smoking, minimal alcohol consumption and other healthy lifestyle choices.

Recent scientific and medical evidence shows that a diet consisting of foods that are plant-based, nutrient dense and low-fat will help prevent and often reverse most degenerative diseases that kill us and are expensive to treat. We should be able to live largely disease-free lives until we are well into our 90s and even past 100 years of age.

I find it amusing that he wraps this gift-bag of crazy up in a “now go out and buy my shit” bow.

The people in my family live a long time.  My grandmother’s mother, Mama Willie lived well into her nineties and subsisted on pig’s feet and collard greens.

My brother’s trips to the hospital in his late teen years weren’t due to booze and pot.  It was due to his schizoid personality which led him to dangerous situations.

It wasn’t lack of jogging or sweet-tea that killed my Grandfather.  It was the mesothelioma that he contracted after working around asbestos for years.

And I wish a motherfucker would tell my grandmother that the brain tumor that she had was a result of her love of the Louisiana Crunch Cake.

Louisiana Crunch Cake doesnt cause brain tumors.

Louisiana Crunch Cake doesn't cause brain tumors.

I guarantee you that she would shuffle over on the nine toes that gangrene didn’t take, and beat him with her cane.
And when she got tired, because she’s nearly ninety and hasn’t worked out one day in her life (unless you count share-cropping cotton), I’d take her down to her doctor and get her checked out.  ‘Course now that I think about it, she might not even use her can.  Macheath isn’t the only one who carries a jack-knife.

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4 responses

14 08 2009
caprice

Option 4, removing government mandates, may also include things like mental health treatment–which is currently gets only partial coverage in most plans.

14 08 2009
Baby Power Dyke

I hadn’t even thought of that. Though I guess that given the crazy that Mr. Mackey has submitted as options, he’s not the least bit concerned about mental health treatment.

25 08 2009
roya

I agree with everything – and you said it much better than the thoughts rattling ’round in my head since I read Mr. Whole Foods’ delightful prose – except that I come down on the other side of transparency of cost. When I had to decide between eating things other than ramen and paying the hundreds of dollars to the doctor when my dog was sick recently, it was comforting to know exactly where the money was going. I don’t have insurance right now and luckily I haven’t had to go to a doctor… but if and when I do, I’d wish for a detailed breakdown so that I could be shown to my face how stupidly expensive a single cortisone shot is. At least for me, it makes the bewilderment and outrage a little more bearable when I know all the information.

25 08 2009
Baby Power Dyke

@ Roya

I see your point about wanting to have all of the information. The information that I am most interested in is the information that breaks down exactly what kind of financial perks certain doctors are getting for ordering certain tests or operations. Not simply how much those, sometimes unnecessary, tests and operations cost.

My squeamishness about the way that Mr. Mackey presented his argument, is what I read as a desire to use the cost information to shame and intimidate people who need the treatments. It’s fine for people like Mr. Mackey, for whom cost is not that great an issue (unless it’s what “others” are costing him), to talk about how there ought to be more cost transparency. He’s not facing the tough choices. It will never be, nice dinner or ramen and getting health care. He’s not even looking at the receipts.

Is your dog okay, now?

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