Whole Foods founder John Mackey said he wants his company to solve America’s broken health care program by implementing a plan he believes will improve the nation’s health.
Not content with supplying organic groceries, he wants Whole Foods to first improve the health of his employees, then his customers, before tackling America’s “terrible diet.”
“Health care is so broken in America. If we allow markets to work, if we allow entrepreneurs to get in here and do things like I’m talking about doing, we will pretty much solve the health-care problem in a generation.”
According to the Bloomberg piece, Whole Foods will open its “Total Health Immersion” program to more of its employees. The program is a free weight loss retreat that includes professional lab testing, healthy cooking classes, and talks with qualified nutritionists. The plan is to offer it to customers as a weekend getaway in Austin and then roll it out to other U.S. cities.
If successful, Mackey is considering launching Whole Foods medical clinics modeled after an employer-health care program run by Rosen Hotels & Resorts in Orlando. The clinics would have on-site medical facilities focused on nutrition and preventative care.
Bloomberg’s Brad Stone reported that Mackey “met Rosen Resorts founder Harris Rosen at a health-care conference last summer in Las Vegas, then traveled to Florida to tour the clinic.”
“Mackey wants Whole Foods to offer Total Health Immersion to customers as a healthful weekend getaway. He says he’s negotiating to buy a property in Austin, and ‘if it works here, there’s no reason we can’t do it in every major city in the U.S.'”
Stone said that a Whole Foods spokesman described the prospective program as merely “brainstorms,” but he says Mackey seems serious about the plan. But how far will he get in transforming the nation’s health?
With Whole Foods, Mackey can offer incentives for staff participating in wellness programs, but motivating the American public to buy into the program and part with their hard-earned dollars may prove a tough task. It may initially prove popular with the typical, high income, health conscious Whole Foods shopper, but convincing others will likely prove to be extremely difficult.
The Whole Foods plan is likely to focus heavily on nutritional re-education.
“Americans all insist they eat well, but if you look at what they’re eating, they’re kidding themselves. Americans eat a terrible diet. It’s nonsense. Of course they can eat better. They just choose not to.”
It appears that John Mackey truly believes that Whole Foods has the answer to America’s health problems.