The Better Mind and Body Obamacare Alternatives

healthy habits sign

I am committed to discovering and learning from every Obamacare alternative available. So far I uncovered two conservative proposals—The 2017 Project Proposal and the Save Our Healthcare Proposal. But after reading two proposals from conservative elites, one (2017) a lot more detailed than the other (SOH), I am already feeling distracted. So I went searching for something else, something different, and something unique. And I found it—two very different “alternatives” to Obamacare… The first alternative comes from Whole Foods (supermarkets) co-founder and libertarian, John Mackey. The other alternative is health care sharing ministries.

Whole Foods

Everyone who visits a Whole Foods market knows it is an experience. The staff is nice, friendly and helpful. The food is super fresh and a lot of it is organic. They offer products you cannot find elsewhere. And you can easily spend $100 and not have enough food for one meal, but still walk away smiling. Now Whole Foods is not the only high-price supermarket, but it’s owner is the only corporate big shot that has his own health care reform plan.

John Mackey, Whole Foods co-founder, got in a lot of trouble for his comment that Obamacare is fascism. He later apologized for his poor choice of words, but he no doubt still believes them to be true. In true libertarian fashion
his health care reform plan calls for more personal responsibility and less (really, no) government intervention, unless it is pro-market intervention.

The Mackey (8-point) Health Care Reform Plan
  1. More high deductible health plans and health savings accounts (HSAs)
  2. Same tax treatment for individually purchased and employer-provided health insurance
  3. Right to purchase health insurance from any state
  4. Abolish all health insurance plan mandates (these are benefits that a state or the federal government requires a health plan to offer. For example, alcohol and drug treatment, hearing aids, mental health benefits, etc.)
  5. Implement medical tort reform to limit the amount of damages patients can collect
  6. Health care costs transparency
  7. Reform Medicare (that’s all it says…)
  8. Allow tax deductible charitable donations to help others who do not have private or publicly provided health insurance
Mackey’s plan has some of the same elements as the 2017 Project health care reform, proposal, including equalizing tax treatment for employer and individual health insurance, using HSAs and purchasing coverage across state lines. It also has a few things in common with Dr. Ben Carson’s Save Our Health Care proposal, including tort reform, HSAs, and charitable contributions.

I like Mackey’s ideas for equalizing tax treatment for purchases of private health insurance and allowing charitable donations to help others purchase coverage. I would love to hear his ideas for making health care costs transparent. It is something I want to see also, but the medical and prescription drug communities and insurers always, and still do have the right to do this, but for the most part choose not to do so. Is he suggesting a government mandate requiring them to do so…?

Health Care Sharing Ministries

Christians and people of other religions have a long history of helping their “members” pay medical and other bills. Health care ministries are sort of a continuation of this practice. Health care ministries are cost sharing arrangements among people with similar beliefs. Individuals apply for membership and, if accepted to join, pay a monthly fee or premium that goes into a fund to pay medical claims. There is no guarantee of payment of claims because it is not an insurance plan.

A quick review of an application form one of the larger
health care ministries show that there are various tiers of coverage for maternity, catastrophic or preexisting health conditions. The program has three coverage tiers (Gold, Silver and Bronze) and covers individuals and families based on what it calls units. There is no provider network, but there is a list of recommended health care providers. Members can go to any doctor or medical facility they choose and submit their bills to the ministry. Members pay a premium based on their chosen level of coverage and the number of individuals participating

Health care sharing ministries have something in common with both Mackey’s health care reform proposal and Dr. Carson’s. Like Mackey, individuals who join health care ministries do not support government intervention in health care. In fact, participation in these ministries increased significantly after the passage of Obamacare. And like both Mackey and Dr. Carson, charity (not free) is an important element in these plans.

Both the Mackey and Health Care Sharing Ministries health care reform proposals/plans are moralistic. With Mackey, no one is entitled to health insurance coverage and most health care conditions are self-inflicted and are repairable by a change in diet and lifestyle. The health care ministries are also predicated on lifestyle, a Christian lifestyle. In fact, membership in these programs are restricted to individuals who do not use tobacco or illegal drugs and limit alcohol consumption based on biblical teachings. There are also other lifestyle limits to joining these ministries.

My final ruling on these Obamacare alternatives… They are alternatives to status quo health care coverage, but they do not address the issues of increasing access to health care and controlling health care costs. They are not an alternative to Obamacare.
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