Wal-Mart To Offer Health Insurance to More Part-Time Employees
Officials for Wal-Mart Stores on Monday announced that the company will reduce the waiting period for part-time employees to qualify for health insurance, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Wal-Mart also will reduce copayments for generic medications for common conditions -- such as diabetes, hypertension, infections and high cholesterol -- from $10 to $3 and will offer 20% discounts on other prescription drugs (Wall Street Journal, 4/18). In addition, Wal-Mart will offer employees a 10% discount on health foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, purchased in Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores.
According to Wal-Mart officials, the company on May 13 will reduce the waiting period for part-time employees to qualify for health insurance from two years to one year. Wal-Mart also will offer health insurance to the dependents of part-time employees (Reuters/New York Times, 4/18). The moves will make an additional 150,000 Wall-Mart employees and dependents eligible for health insurance, company officials said.
Susan Chambers, vice president of the Wal-Mart People Division, said she expects most part-time employees who become eligible for health insurance to enroll in a plan that charges premiums of $23 monthly and an additional $15 monthly for dependents (Freking, AP/Houston Chronicle, 4/18). Wal-Mart also for the first time next year will contribute as much as $2,400 to employee health savings accounts, according to company spokesperson Dan Fogleman (Roberts, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 4/18).
Chambers said in a statement, "Keep in mind that covering part-time employees is not the norm. But every American deserves health care, and we want to lead by taking this step. We hope that others in the retail community will work with us to do the same." According to Bloomberg/Philadelphia Inquirer, Wal-Mart made the announcements amid "increasing regulation by states and pressure from unions to offer health coverage to more of its 1.6 million workers" (Coleman-Lochner, Bloomberg/Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/18).