We know it won’t be nearly enough, yet we can’t help noticing today’s announcement by Walmart that they will expand their health coverage offerings to their workers. Does anyone think they would be doing this were it not for the public attention to their pitiful performance? Just a reminder — the MA survey on employers who have 50+ workers on MassHealth or the Free Care Pool — Walmart’s #1 with 6,146 employees and dependents reliant on these programs. Total 2005 cost to taxpayers and the state to provide coverage for Walmart employees — $7,990,566.
(That’s about $990,566 more than the total revenue take from the State Senate/Business proposal to tax businesses that don’t cover their workers $62 per year.)
Here’s a summary from the Kaiser Daily Briefing:
Wal-Mart on Thursday announced it will expand employee health benefits, USA Today reports. The company said it will reduce the two-year waiting period for part-time workers to qualify for health benefits, but it did not specify the new waiting time. Wal-Mart said it will allow part-time workers to enroll their children in the insurance plan. Wal-Mart said it will expand its Value Plan — under which employees can purchase coverage for as low as $11 per month — to half of its employees by 2007. The plan allows three generic prescriptions and three doctor visits before implementing a deductible, which is $1,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a family.
The company currently insures fewer than half of its 1.3 million U.S. employees. … According to the New York Times, “Without … details, it is unclear whether the latest changes will move Wal-Mart employees off state Medicaid rolls and onto Wal-Mart’s insurance plans”. USA Today reports many of the proposals “are not new” and were “included in a memo leaked to the press” in 2005. The announcement “comes as about 22 states consider laws that could force Wal-Mart stores to pay more on health care for its workers”.
Paul Ginsberg, president of the Center for Studying Health System Change, credited Wal-Mart for expanding health care during a time when many employers are cutting coverage, but he added that the company was “clearly focused on what it can do to look better without it costing them a lot more money.”