The world's largest retailer said only 7.3 percent of its workers reported being uninsured, down from 9.6 percent the year before. Wal-Mart, which union groups have targeted over health care, said more than half of its eligible employees received coverage under its health care plans, a first in recent reporting. [...]
Linda Dillman, an executive vice president of benefits and risk management for Wal-Mart, told reporters on a conference call Tuesday that the increased enrollment likely came from the company's new health care plan. The plan, which allows employees to customize their coverage, includes premiums as low as $5 a month and access to $4 prescription drugs.
"Everybody in this company is on the same set of plans," Dillman said. Wal-Mart president and CEO "Lee Scott made the same selection the newest part-time cashier at Wal-Mart did."
According to the interview, 50.2 percent of employees made use of the company's health care plan this year, an increase from 47 percent last year (46 percent in 2006, and 43 percent in 2005). The increase is attributed to positive changes made in Wal-Mart's health plan, changes which include lowered premiums and copays for Prescription drug, coverage for the children of part time workers and a shortened eligibility period.
State lawmakers have criticized Wal-Mart for allowing its workers to take part of state-funded health care for the poor. A confidential 2006 state study in Washington state showed Wal-Mart had 3,194 workers on Medicaid and the state's Basic Health Plan, more than any other private employer.As of this time Meghan Scott, a spokeswoman for WakeUpWalMart.com, a union-backed website critical of the company's shortcomings on this issue declined to comment.
Dillman said the retailer had seen a slight drop-off in the number of employees saying they took part in state-sponsored health care coverage, but said the percentages stayed roughly the same.
"We did get some movement off of the plan, but we didn't see much change in terms of the total percentage," Dillman said.
SOURCE: "Wal-Mart says more workers insured" 01/2/08
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