Wal-Mart Expands Healthcare Benefits
By George Anderson
Harry Whittington could have learned a lesson from Wal-Mart. A moving target is the hardest to hit.
The world’s largest retailer has quickly responded to criticism over its healthcare benefits program and the passage of the so-called Wal-Mart bill in Maryland by reducing the timeframe required for part-timers to join the program, extending benefits to associates’ children and expanding the availability of the lowest-cost plan the company offers to half of its associates by next year. It also announced it would build 50 health clinics in its stores this year.
Wal-Mart’s CEO Lee Scott is due to make a speech before the National Governors Association this weekend, according to a Dow Jones Newswire report, where he will call for “a new commitment from leaders in government and business to help solve the healthcare challenges facing America’s employers and working families.”
Mr. Scott will say that the need for government action is clear because, “The soaring cost of healthcare in America cannot be sustained over the long term by any business that offers health benefits to its employees.”
While Wal-Mart is the focal point for criticism in much of the healthcare debate, Mr. Scott will tell the governors that his company is “already among the largest providers of private-sector health insurance in the nation — with more than 1 million covered lives.”
Wal-Mart’s critics were not swayed by the announcement. Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com, said in a released statement, “While Wal-Mart’s proposed changes to their health care plan are certainly long overdue, and we certainly support expanding benefits to part-timers, the Wal-Mart health care crisis infecting America cannot be solved by publicity stunts. Wal-Mart’s proposed changes are clearly designed to try and salvage a faltering public image, rather than make substantive changes to improve health care benefits for its employees.”
Moderator’s Comment: Do you agree with the statement: “The soaring cost of healthcare in America cannot be sustained over the long term by any business
that offers health benefits to its employees.” If so, how should the retail industry be responding to this situation? Are there any individual companies that you can point to
that have created unique responses to deal with this challenge? –
George Anderson – Moderator
Set To Expand Worker Health Plans – Dow Jones Newswire/NASDAQ
- WakeUpWalMart.com Responds to Wal-Mart’s Upcoming Healthcare Announcements – WakeUpWalMart.com