After receiving a lot of blowback for calling Obamacare “fascism”, Whole Foods Markets CEO John Mackey tried to make a more nuanced criticism at the Huffington Post. His attempt though to compare the Affordable Care Act with the Swiss health care system only highlights his lack of understanding. From John Mackey:
I believe that, if the goal is universal health care, our country would be far better served by combining free enterprise capitalism with a strong governmental safety net for our poorest citizens and those with preexisting conditions, helping everyone to be able to buy insurance. This is what Switzerland does and I think we would be much better off copying that system than where we are currently headed in the United States.
I believe that health care should be competitive in the open market to promote innovation and creativity. Despite the criticism of me, I am encouraged that this dialogue will bring continued awareness and a better understanding of viable health care options for all Americans. There is an alternative to mandated health care in free enterprise capitalism based on voluntary exchange for mutual gain. This alternative allows individuals and businesses to innovate and develop customized solutions to health care where a “one size fits all approach” fails. Creativity and progress are stifled when government regulations dictate the parameters of what health care plans can be offered. Creative businesses, and the people who work them, can make something that has value for all stakeholders.
For people who don’t know, Switzerland mandates everyone buy a highly regulated basic insurance package. Insurance companies have very little flexibility. They must offer what is effectively the same basic insurance package to everyone at the same price and can’t make a profit on it. Technically, insurance companies do have more freedom to offer supplemental policies.
It is basically the definition of a mandated “one size fits all approach.” One of my major criticisms of the ACA is that it is not nearly as heavily regulated and standardized as the Swiss system.
I’m singling out Mackey because thi highlights one of the many problems with the health care debate in this country. You have a whole segment of politicians saying that want “free market” solutions to get universal coverage yet they can’t even begin to explain how it would work.
The simple fact is that every country that provides universal health care has dramatically more government regulation than our own. In general, the greater the level of regulation, the lower the overall price. On one side, you have progressives advocating adopting one of several proven solutions, and on the other side, you have people throwing around vague platitudes with no idea how to make them work.
Photo by JoeM500 under Creative Commons license