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Wal-Mart Health Plan: Always Low Prices?

Wal-Mart is the latest to join the ranks of the increasing number of employers who are switching to high-deductible health plans. The main benefit of these plans is the cost savings to the employer who can still attract talent with the promise of health coverage. Wal-Mart employees enjoy the elimination of expensive hospital deductibles and reduced monthly premiums – some as low as $5 a month – and $4 for generic prescriptions. But if a Wal-Mart worker finds herself with serious chronic health problems, she’s still looking at a deductible that may be as much as 10% of her annual income – before taxes. That’s assuming she’s not a new employee on the year-long waiting list for coverage.

Since Wal-Mart is the nation’s largest private employer (1.3 million employees), its new health plan is likely to be influencing its competitors and possibly other industries and sectors as well. That said, it’s good news that Wal-Mart’s new health plan is an improvement from previous practice, when employees had to wait up to 2 years for coverage, part-time workers couldn’t cover their children. At last count, less than half of Wal-Mart employees had company coverage and nearly 10% received health care through government programs. Another 10% were uninsured.

A HEALTH PLAN FOR WAL-MART: LESS STINGINESS
by Michael Barbaro and Reed Abelson
The New York Times
November 13, 2007

HEALTH PLAN OVERHAULED AT WAL-MART
by Michael Barbaro
The New York Times
September 19, 2007

MANY WORKERS AT WAL-MART DON’T USE ITS HEALTH PLANS
by Ylan Q. Mui and Amy Joyce
The Washington Post
January 11, 2007

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT WAL-MART?
by Annette Bernhardt, Anmol Chaddha, and Siobhan McGrath
Brennan Center for Justice
Economic Policy Brief No.2, August 2005

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