Wal-Mart Says It Provides Health Care Coverage To More Employees
Wal-Mart provides health coverage for 47.4% of its employees, an 8% increase from last year, while 43% of its employees have health coverage through another source and 10% are uninsured, according to a recent company-sponsored survey, Reuters reports (Reuters, 1/11).
The survey of more than 200,000 Wal-Mart employees found that 22% of workers receive health benefits under a spouse's plan; nearly 5% are covered under Medicare; and 4% are insured through their parents, school or college. About 2% of employees are covered by Medicaid and 1% are enrolled in other state health insurance programs (Mui/Joyce, Washington Post, 1/11).
The survey also found that 76.3% of its workforce was eligible for health benefits during the most recent open-enrollment period (Reuters, 1/11). Fifteen percent of workers said the cost of Wal-Mart's plans was their reason for declining coverage and 4% said they did not need the company's plans, the survey found (McWilliams, Wall Street Journal, 1/11).
According to the Washington Post, the survey is the retailer's "first effort to capture such data as it faces criticism from labor unions that accuse it of paying low wages and skimping on health benefits."
The company has also tried to counter criticism by offering $4 generic prescription drugs at its pharmacies and making changes to its coverage, the Post reports (Washington Post, 1/11).
Last year, Wal-Mart lowered plan premiums to as little as $11 per month for individual coverage, cut the waiting period from two years to one year for part-time employees to become eligible for benefits and extended coverage to children of employees (Wall Street Journal, 1/11). The $11 per month benefit includes three generic prescriptions and three physician visits before the deductible takes effect, typically $1,000 for an individual employee and $3,000 for an employee's family (Barbaro/Abelson, New York Times, 1/11).