Wal-Mart Employees Enrolled in Public Health Insurance Programs More Than Others
Wal-Mart Stores has more employees enrolled in public health care programs than any other company in at least 19 states, according to a report issued on Tuesday by the AFL-CIO, Reuters/Washington Post reports.
The report, titled "The Wal-Mart Tax: Shifting Health Care Costs to Taxpayers," examined data from 23 states in which information about Medicaid and other public health assistance programs could be linked to employers. Researchers found that in 19 states, more workers from Wal-Mart than from any other company relied on public health care programs, such as Medicaid, for their health needs. Results from the other four states were unclear, according to Reuters/Post.
The report says Wal-Mart is a primary contributor to state's rising Medicaid costs (Szekely, Reuters/Washington Post, 3/14).
"People don't necessarily understand the price the states are paying," Naomi Walker, a spokesperson for the AFL-CIO, said. She said the goal of the report is to promote expanded health coverage for workers, adding that Wal-Mart should use its leverage to obtain discounts on health insurance (Turkel, Portland Press Herald, 3/15).
Wal-Mart spokesperson Kelly Hobbs said the report fails to take into account the fact that Wal-Mart helps employees move away from public assistance programs. Seven percent of Wal-Mart employees are in public assistance programs when they began working at Wal-Mart, compared with 3% of employees who have been at the company two years, she said (Reuters/Washington Post, 3/14). She added that 30% of employees do not have health insurance before they begin working at Wal-Mart, and the company provides coverage to one million workers and family members through 18 different plans (Portland Press Herald, 3/15).
Hobbs noted that the company is working to improve its health plans by reducing the two-year waiting period for part-time workers, allowing children of part-time workers to be covered under the plan and expanding access to its $11-per-month insurance plan (Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times, 3/15).
The report is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the report.