Incentives for Healthy Lifestyles

All eyes are on the Supreme Court as the nation awaits its decision about ObamaCare, but progress in the health sector nonetheless marches on.

These changes in the real world of health care are driven not by Washington’s laws, rules, and endless regulations but by companies, large and small, that are developing new ways to improve health care.

The Galen Institute held a conference adjacent Capitol Hill on Wednesday in which speakers from more than a dozen companies described the investments they are making in better health, better health care services, and more efficient care delivery.

They demonstrated that the best solutions to the problems in our health sector come not from remote Washington bureaucrats trying futilely to reengineer our health sector through costly, cumbersome, and confusing rules and regulations, but from innovators who are listening to doctors, patients, and consumers.

For example, Walmart is making a major investment in its new “Healthy Food Initiative” to help families stressed for time and money to eat better more nutritious meals.  Joe Quinn, senior director of issue management and strategic outreach for Walmart, described the company’s new five-year program to make it easier to live healthy by making more nutritious food more accessible and affordable.

Walmart will work to reduce sodium, sugars, and trans fats in the packaged foods it sells, buy more local products, and develop algorithms for labels that will help shoppers identify healthy foods offering the best value, as just a few examples of the Walmart initiative.  This will bring “better nutrition to kitchen tables across the country,” Quinn said.  Only the world’s largest retailer would have the market power to facilitate this transformational change by working at the micro level with suppliers, developing educational programs, and responding to customers who want to live better at affordable prices.