Buddha, Papa John’s, Applebee’s and Obamacare

“Anger, ignorance and greed are the three demons in a man’s life.” – Buddha

John Schnatter of Papa John’s Pizza and Zane Tankel, the owner of Applebee’s franchise, said that they would transition some of their fulltime employees to part timejust because of Obamacare. There was a businessmen in Vegas that said he fired some of his employees for the same reason. Another Georgia businessman called C-SPAN and said that he made sure that a couple of workers that he fired, also because of Obamacare, were the ones that voted for Obama. These businessmen are angry with Obama for trying to provide access to affordable quality healthcare for every American. They are barking up the wrong tree.

An artificial knee replacement surgery costs six to ten times less in India than a comparable quality surgery in America and also includes two weeks of home physical therapy after surgery.

Many of these businessmen say they would like to provide healthcare to all their employees only if healthcare is less expensive. That’s the crux of the problem; escalating healthcare costs. I have been practicing neurosurgery in Flint, Michigan, for 16 years and I know how GM got bankrupted partly by the skyrocketing healthcare costs. Last year, my father underwent a knee replacement in India, operated by an Orthopedic surgeon trained in England, using an artificial joint prosthesis from an American medical device company, DePuy. The total cost of the surgery including four days of private room and two weeks of physical therapy cost me less than $8000. The same surgery cost on average of $160,000 in Texas, in 2009 and still costs $45,000 to $70,000 across the country.

Most of the businessmen that are upset with the Affordable Care Act are unfortunately ignorant of the real, deep-rooted cause that is destroying healthcare in America. J. Patrick Rooney and Dan Perrin, architects of Health Savings Accounts during the George W. Bush era, wrote in their book, America’s Health Care Crisis Solved and I quote;

“The problem is greed. The ship has lost its moral rudder. It is awash in greed. We can’t expect the industry to fix itself. There’s just too much self-interest at stake. We can exhort our health care providers to charge less, but we doubt that will work. The money is too easy, and the greed too strong.”
It is ironic that greed, the essence of unregulated capitalism that creates millionaires and billionaires, is also responsible for pushing the middle class into poverty and creating many of the poor in the current economy.
The healthcare industry has not been immune to that greed. Clearly, healing the sick in America has become a mega business, costing the nation $2.8 Trillion to be precise. I don’t find it surprising at all, for America’s business is business. Instead of being angry with Obamacare, the emphasis should be in bringing down the costs of the healthcare business which has created a medical industrial complex that is highly profit oriented, driven by greed and perpetuated by a corrupt political system and benefits mostly the special interests. I am not sure if the owners of Papa John’s or Applebee’s will be in favor of voluntary implementation of less greedy practices or mandatory laws to prevent such practices in the healthcare industry. That is against the core profit motive of business and will be like shooting one’s own greedy capitalist foot.

Papa John’s would rather pass on the 11 to 14 cent per pizza extra cost of providing healthcare to its employees onto the customers than accept a little less of the $100 million per year profit. I am sure he considers himself a compassionate man because he made some charitable donationsbut I am not sure if Buddha would have called it compassion, when such charity is the money made off of the sweat and tears of the hard working employees that were denied basic healthcare. On the other hand there are businessmen that say, even if one doesn’t provide healthcare to their employees out of compassion or kindness, it makes good business sense to do so, for healthy and happy employees are more productive for the bottom line.

Martin, a part owner of Ian’s Pizza, and owns a handful of pizzerias in Wisconsin, provided healthcare benefits to all his employeeseven before Obamacare mandated the employers to provide healthcare. He did it because he believed that was the right thing to do.

That, I am sure Buddha would have agreed, is a true compassionate businessman.