How Wal-Mart’s Health Coverage Stacks Up

Date: 1 Feb 2004 | posted in: Retail | 0 Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmail

Unaffordable premiums, overly strict eligibility requirements, and major gaps in coverage characterize Wal-Mart’s health insurance plan, according to a new report from the AFL-CIO.

The annual premium a full-time Wal-Mart employee must pay for coverage for her and her spouse is $2,672 (with a $350 deductible), which amounts to about 19 percent of her pre-tax earnings, according to the report. Part-time employees (under 34 hours per week) are only eligible to enroll after two years on the job and even then, coverage is available only for themselves, not their families. Full-time workers are eligible for family coverage after six months.

Costly premiums and strict eligibility requirements result in only two in five Wal-Mart employees being covered by the company’s health care plan, compared to a national average of 66 percent at large firms. Moreover, unlike nearly all other corporate health insurance plans, Wal-Mart’s plan does not cover most basic services, including regular check-ups for adults and children, childhood immunizations, and routine screenings such as prostate exams.

According to the report, taxpayers are subsidizing the world’s largest corporation by paying the healthcare costs of uninsured and underinsured Wal-Mart employees and their families. In Georgia, for example, 10,000 children of Wal-Mart workers are enrolled in the state’s health insurance program, at an annual cost to taxpayers of $6.6 million.

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Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and directs its Independent Business Initiative, which partners with a wide range of allies to implement policies that counter concentrated power and strengthen local economies.