Wal-Mart Efforts on Health Care Gaining More Positive Attention
More people are looking to Wal-Mart as a case study in the effort to provide health care benefits to workers, the Washington Post reports.
The shift comes after the company became the target of advocacy groups who believed the firm failed to take adequate steps to provide health benefits for workers.
As part of its health care efforts, Wal-Mart has worked to provide higher-quality health care more in a more efficient way, in part by using electronic health records and partnering with organizations such as the Mayo Clinic.Â
Many workers have enrolled in high-deductible health plans, and the company provides an upfront credit of between $100 and $150 for medical expenses.
From 2007 to 2008, enrollment in high-deductible health plans among workers ages 16 to 24 increased by 78%.
Linda Dillman, the Wal-Mart vice president overseeing the health plan, said, "We're seeing utilization on types of care you could hope," such as checkups and generic drugs. She added that plan members are "managing costs at the same time."
Figures released on Friday show that 5.5% of Wal-Mart employees are uninsured, compared with a nationwide rate of 18%.
Wal-Mart still draws criticism from unions and other groups that maintain that the company can afford to provide benefits at a lower cost to workers.
In addition, Mark Smith, president and CEO of the California HealthCare Foundation, said, "Even a company as big and successful as Wal-Mart cannot possibly solve this problem on its own," adding, "There are limits to what one company can do" (Connolly, Washington Post, 2/13).
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