A Letter to the CEO of Whole Foods

18 Jan

Dear Mr. Mackey,

On your blog yesterday, you said, “I made a poor word choice to describe our health care system, which I definitely regret.” Well Mr. Mackey, I for one nanosecond don’t believe you have any regrets comparing ObamaCare to fascism. The only thing you regret is that liberals like me balked at your derogatory statement and are considering boycotting Whole Foods. And your backtracking will not convince me to ever step foot again into any Whole Foods. All I can say is shame on you for your detestable display of disrespect toward the highest position in the nation.

I am sick and tired of people who have silver spoons believing it’s their god-given right to say anything they want to say, voice it in any manner, and believe it’s okay to air it publicly. Yes, I understand freedom of speech, but sometimes some things are best left unsaid. My mother taught me that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all! I really wish people would heed this advice and keep their mouths shut!

Mr. Mackey, for the life of me I don’t understand your objection toward the President’s health care reform law. Please explain it to me like I’m a fifth grader because your explanation, extracted from your blog below, doesn’t cut the mustard.

“I believe that health care should be competitive in the open market to promote innovation and creativity. … There is an alternative to mandated health care in free enterprise capitalism based on voluntary exchange for mutual gain … [which] 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.”

Yep, even after reading it a second time, it doesn’t jive with what you have offered your approximately 73,000 employees. More on that later in my letter.

Let me start with what Obama Health Care is and is not. First and foremost, it’s not a mandate! It’s a tax that one can opt out and pay a tax if they don’t want health insurance. ObamaCare gives Americans the option to be covered regardless of income or preexisting conditions, and prevents insurance companies from dropping their insurance when they are sick. This is basically ObamaCare in a nutshell. And, for the first time in my life, I need ObamaCare.

Second, you suggested that we use reform to get to the real roots of the health care crisis: obesity and unhealthy eating habits. Well Mr. Mackey, this is not the root of the problem! One must dig deeper to understand the complexities of obesity and unhealthy eating habits. There are several reasons, which I’ll identify only two: (1) Low-income people and even middle-class folks cannot afford to purchase healthy foods from expensive groceries like Whole Foods. (2) In many areas of the country, there are no neighborhood grocery stores. So people with no access to private or public transportation can only shop at Bodegas or convenience stores which do not sell fresh fruits and vegetables. Mr. Mackey, when you are looking at alternative systems, you must view the whole picture instead of making unfounded and useless accusations to get your point across.

I also have a problem with your condescending attitude in your interview with the news media. In one of your statements, you described the health care problems as self-inflicted and preventable through proper diet, exercise, not smoking, minimal alcohol consumption, and other healthy lifestyle choices. Are you for real? First Mr. Mackey, until all U.S. citizens can start at ground zero and on a level playing field (offered the same amenities and securities in life), these problems are not all self-inflicted, but exacerbated by situations out of one’s control (i.e., born into poverty; environmental issues; hereditary conditions; medical malpractice mistakes; external, internal or psychological influences). The list goes on and on. Until ObamaCare, the government really didn’t care about it citizenry health care needs. Advice to you Mr. Mackey — please learn and exercise empathy for those who are not as fortunate as you are.

Now back to your alternative. You stated that there is an alternative to mandated healthcare based on voluntary exchange for mutual gain; and that creative businesses, and the people who work them, can make something that has value for all stakeholders. You seem proud that Whole Foods gives each employee $1,800 per year in healthcare dollars to use at his/her own discretion for health and wellness expenses. You say this money can be put toward the $2,500 annual deductible that must be covered before the company’s insurance plan kicks in. Oh my god, listen to yourself! I’m abhorred that an employer would select this benefit for its employees, especially if the majority is hourly employees. Here are the reasons why:

  1. Before an employee can get this benefit, he/she must work a minimum of 30 hours per week at Whole Foods.
  2. The average employee makes $15 per hour, which comes to $21,600 per year (2012 Poverty Guidelines for the 48 contiguous states and DC for a family of four is $23,050).
  3. If the employee has a catastrophic illness or even just a bunionectomy, which costs approximately $16,000 for outpatient surgery, he/she must first have paid the $2,500 deductible before he/she can be seen by a doctor.
  4. So in reality, the employee must come up with $700 of his/her own out-of-pocket funds to be added to the $1,800.
  5. That $700 equals to approximately three of the employee’s weekly bring-home paychecks.

So here’s my question — with revenues of $11.7 billion in 2012, why should employees making $15 an hour (or even less) be strapped with a $2,500 deductible? Personally, it would make more sense that the deductible is only $1,000 and Whole Foods still provide $1,800 in health care dollars. So in essence, the only stakeholders who are gaining in this scenario are Whole Foods and the insurance company, not the employees who earn $15 an hour for 30 hours per week.

You said that you needed a new word or phrase to describe the state of health care now. It’s more than that Mr. Mackey. I believe you need a new mindset and attitude about the health care system and have empathy and understanding for those Americans who need and want healthcare but can’t afford it like you are able to.

Your so-called apology is not accepted simply because your regret is not genuine. It’s a regret offered in hopes to stop a looming boycott. Because you know, as well as we all know, that deep down in the recesses of your soul you do believe unequivocally that ObamaCare is fascism!

But beware — another saying from my mother — Don’t throw stone if you live in a glass house. And Mr. Mackey, please take this simple advice before airing publicly your personal beliefs — Silence is golden.


A “former” Whole Foods shopper

1 Comment

Posted by on January 18, 2013 in Health


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One response to “A Letter to the CEO of Whole Foods

  1. Lisa

    January 18, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    Very well said! Moreover, it is because of people like him and Donald Trump, that we, the people, overwhelmingly rejected their candidate in the election. They really are unable to present a sensical argument to defend their position on healthcare. They don’t understand that they sound like whiners – no, more like children throwing a tantrum. What they don’t seem to still understand is that the people don’t care anymore about their interests over ours. The people have spoken, but in case they didn’t get the message in Nov, I”ll repeat it again – YES, WE WANT OBAMA CARE! The rich can label it welfare, socialism fascism, hand-out, etc. We, the American people, call it a lifesaver!


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