The PJ Tatler

Whole Foods CEO: Economic Freedom Has Lifted Humanity Out of the Dirt

It’s day one here at Freedom Fest and one of the most interesting speakers at the event is Whole Foods CEO John Mackey.

Mackey, if you don’t know, is a libertarian and the author of the book Conscious  Capitalism. He is a passionate believer in the free market, telling the audience “economic freedom has lifted humanity out of the dirt.”

I think most people just assume he is a granola-type hippy.

Mackey gave a brief talk this morning on the issue of private solutions to health care problems and told the audience about how he handles health care for his employees at Whole Foods. His model seems to be working quite well, much to the chagrin of the lefties who prefer a government-run, inefficient behemoth making life or death decisions for us.

Whole Foods has a self-funded health care model and since Mackey believes that 80% of disease is caused by poor lifestyle decisions, he incentivizes his employees to take action that will reward them for good health.  So while employees get a 20% discount on store purchases, they get increased discounts for meeting certain health milestones — for instance, lowering blood pressure or losing weight for those employees that suffer such health conditions.  Whole Foods tests employees who want to take advantage of this program and Mackey reports that out of 15k who entered the program, 10K received some kind of additional discount for improving their health.

A newer program that Mackey will be starting features Whole Food health clinics that will be opening in Los Angeles, Austin and Washington, D.C., where employees will get free health care. The clinics will also be open to the public.

For those employees that are the “sickest,” Mackey sends them to a week-long clinic that helps them with nutritional choices, formulates dietary plans, and gives them a wellness coach. Long term, these kinds of investments help lower the costs of healthcare he has to pay for his employees.

Overall, Mackey is very engaged with the healthcare of his employees and serious about finding ways he can provide them healthcare services without busting his bottom line, a consideration a single-payer system would never have.  Hopefully, we can stop the train headed to single-payer city that the U.S. is on.