Piling on the Whole Foods Debacle August 17, 2009Posted by Ian Duckles in Current Events, politics.
Much has already been written about John Mackey’s, CEO of Whole Foods, editorial about health care in the Wall Street Journal. Most of the important criticism have been covered, but there was one part of the editorial that really bothered me which hasn’t been touched on yet (at least from what I have seen). In arguing against a government run health plan, Mackey writes,
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.
As Mackey understands it, this behavior on the part of Whole Foods employees in Canada and the UK is evidence that these individuals are unsatisfied with their current health care system. This seems to me to completely miss the point. The reason these employees ask for money to spend on health care is because there is nothing else for them to ask for. If you had great health care and someone asked you what additional benefits you wanted, what else could you ask for but cash? The fact that Whole Foods employees in Canada and the UK don’t ask for any specific benefits (like dental, vision, mental health etc.) or ask for help paying medical bills (i.e. lower deductibles, lower out-of-pocket, lower copays) is actually evidence that these plans are so good that people don’t really have anything to add to them. Just compare what unionized employees in the US ask for when they negotiate contracts with what Mackey reports Canadian and British employees ask for. That Mackey uses this as support for his position is merely evidence of his mendacity and lack of good faith.