To the editor:
The ongoing debate about health care requires out-of-the-box thinking, and I want to highlight one possible solution not being widely discussed: Wal-Mart.
Sure, Wal-Mart has a bad reputation because of its history of poverty-level wages, systematic discrimination, and wholesale slaughter of local businesses.
Yes, Wal-Mart’s own health care solution is unaffordable, so half its employees end up on government-sponsored aid programs. However, Wal-Mart could actually end up saving the day using the business practices so many people despise.
The heart and soul of Wal-Mart is focused on ruthless cost-cutting and downward price pressure. Imagine if Wal-Mart used its size and buying power to negotiate with HMOs? Rather than just rolling back prices on cat food and soft drinks, Wal-Mart could apply margin pressure to health care, reducing costs across the board, making health care more affordable and more competitive for everyone.
Wal-Mart could use its infrastructure and purchasing sophistication to make a real difference to real people, in a truly innovative way. A gargantuan company doesn’t need to be destructive. This is Wal-Mart’s chance to do more good than any reasonable person ever thought possible.
So crazy it just might work.