This article was posted in the Wall Street Journal, August 11, 2009.
By JOHN MACKEY
Mr. Mackey is co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market Inc..
"The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out
of other people's money."
PPACA, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is law and is in the early stages of adoption. Most observers do not see how the law will not increase deficit spending. The upside is that most citizens will have insurance.
With a projected $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009, several trillions more in deficits projected over the next decade, and with both Medicare and Social Security entitlement spending about to ratchet up several notches over the next 15 years as Baby Boomers become eligible for both, we are rapidly running out of other people's money. These deficits are simply not sustainable. They are either going to result in unprecedented new taxes and inflation, or they will bankrupt us.
Will there be a return on investment?
Most assuredly “Yes”. Although it will take some time to assess the gains,, there are categories of expenditures that will decrease.
1. Early intervention in acute and chronic conditions will decrease disability and costs associated with illness.
2. Coverage for immunization will decrease morbidity and mortality from infectious diseases
3. Treatment for HIV and AIDs will be readily available for all patients.
4. Encouragement and incentives to remain healthy using wellness programs, proper nutrition and exercise will fuel wellness industry growth. Patients in these programs may be entitled to premium reductions for participation.
While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction—toward less government control and more individual empowerment. Here are eight reforms that would greatly lower the cost of health care for everyone:
Eight things we can do to improve health care without adding to the deficit.
• 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. 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.
• 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.
- Allow a tax credit to physicians and for profit hospitals for a percentage of ‘care to the uninsured’. This will incentivize both physicians and hospitals to provide ‘charity’ care. The time and services to patients are a form of charitable donations in kind.
Enable Patient and Physician communications in Patient Centric Medicine by emphasizing health habits, exercise and education in nutrition.