In Saturday's Wall Street Journal, Stephen Moore published his interview with Mackey to talk about the uproar over his health care proposals and other issues. One thing is clear, John Mackey is not the typical CEO.
Mr. Mackey has flown into Washington, D.C., for a board meeting of the Global Animal Partnership, a group that advocates for the humane treatment of animals. There was no private jet: He arrived on Southwest Airlines from Austin, Texas, and he bought the "Wanna Getaway" bottom basement fare. "I barely got the last aisle seat," he says. While in town he stays in the bedroom of his regional president, who lives in Maryland.
For the 12th straight year, Mr. Mackey's company has been praised as one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" by Fortune Magazine. Whole Foods sells healthy food, practices "socially responsible trade," and prides itself on promoting foods that are grown to support "biodiversity and healthy soils." Mr. Mackey donates 5% of company profits to charity and has been one of America's loudest critics of runaway compensation on Wall Street. And he pays himself $1 a year. He would seem to be a model corporate citizen.
Mackey is not your typical Right Wing Conspiracy member. He runs his business on a set of values that are rare in corporate America. But, what makes him even more impressive is that he doesn't demand that government force other companies to adopt the same policies. Mackey's "controversial" health care statement stirred the Leftist Loons precisely because it provided a path for expanding health coverage without a government takeover.
What Mr. Mackey is proposing is more or less what he has already implemented at his company—a plan that would allow more health savings accounts (HSAs), more low-premium, high-deductible plans, more incentives for wellness, and medical malpractice reform. None of these initiatives are in any of the Democratic bills winding their way through Congress. In fact, the Democrats want to kill HSAs and high-deductible plans and mandate coverage options that would inflate health insurance costs.
The Whole Foods health-care story has been largely ignored by proponents of a government-run system. But it could be a template for those in Washington who want to drive down costs and insure the uninsured.
Mr. Mackey says that combining "our high deductible plan (patients pay for the first $2,500 of medical expenses) with personal wellness accounts or health savings accounts works extremely well for us." He estimates the plan's premiums plus other costs at $2,100 per employee, and about $7,000 for a family. This is about half what other companies typically pay. "And," he is quick to add, "we do cover pre-existing conditions after one year of service."
Whole Foods also puts several hundred dollars into a health savings account for each worker.This money can be used to cover routine medical expenses, like drug purchases or antismoking programs. If that money is not used in a year, the workers can save the money to pay for expenses in later years.
This type of plan does not excite proponents of a single-payer system, who think that individuals can't make wise health-care choices, and that this type of system is "antiwellness" because it discourages spending on preventive care.
Mr. Mackey scoffs at that idea: "The assumption behind that is that people don't care about their own health, and that somebody else has to—a nanny or somebody—has to take care of me because people are too stupid to make these decisions themselves. That's not been our experience. We find our team members [employees], not surprisingly, seem to care a whole lot about their health."
Here is the problem: President Barry Vladimir Hussein Soetero Obama and the Democrats in the Kremlin on the Potomac do not want a solution to the current problems that impact the availability and cost of health care. They want to control it. It is that simple. These Statists believe that the only solution is to give your health responsibility to the people who have created more debt in eight months than the previous 44 presidents ran up in 220 years.
You can read more about Whole Foods CEO John Mackey and his views on CEO pay, labor unions and other issues here.