Health Benefits at Walmart U.S.
At Walmart, both full- and part-time associates can become eligible for health coverage, and children of Walmart associates become eligible as soon as their parents are. In fact, Walmart insures nearly 1.2 million Americans. Our associates can choose from numerous plan options. This year, after introducing more customizable, affordable health benefit options, nearly 95 percent of associates report having health coverage from some source, and 51.8 percent are enrolled in our plans — a 7.3 percent increase in five years.
In 2008, we made changes to our health benefits plan such as:
- Reduced the eligibility waiting periods to six months for full-time associates and 12 months for part-time associates;
- Used the strength of our business to drive down the cost of health care and offer our associates certain generic drugs for only $4 for a 30-day supply, and $10 for a 90-day supply;
- Provided associates with more personalized plan choices and a unique, pre-deductible health care credit, a variety of deductions and premiums that allow them to select the plan that best meets their needs and the needs of their families; and
- Created the Life with Baby program, which provides new parents with support during the early stages of pregnancy through the first 12 months of their child's life.
Though nearly 95 percent of our associates have some form of health insurance, roughly 5.5 percent are uninsured. Going forward, we want to continue to provide the kind of health benefits solutions that allow more of our associates and their families to have access to the peace of mind and security that health coverage provides.
Focusing on Health and Wellness
For 2009, we are making some real changes to our medical plans, which will help keep our associates and their family members healthy. We have put a priority on prevention, health and wellness and early detection. These preventive services include physical exams, colonoscopies, flu shots, mammograms and pap smears, well-child exams and immunizations, as well as prescription vitamins. Additionally, Walmart associates and customers will continue to have access to hundreds of prescription medications for just $4 and 90-day supplies for $10.
Providing Associates with Electronic Personal Health Records
Walmart introduced electronic personal health records to help associates keep track of their medical files and help them make more informed health care decisions. To that end, we have pledged to provide every associate and their dependents with access to a personal, electronic health record by the end of 2010. Personal access to health records is a safe and secure way to store and access personal medical information. They can help reduce administrative costs in the health care system and eliminate the medical errors that cause thousands of unnecessary deaths every year. Additionally, Walmart was a founding member of Dossia, which was created to build a framework for a secure and portable electronic medical records system in the U.S.
Addressing Health Disparities
The Wal-Mart Foundation made a $1 million grant to the Meharry Medical College to advance the center's work in addressing diseases that disproportionately impact women and ethnic minorities. The Foundation also made a grant to the Center for American Progress for more than $250,000 to publish research papers related to racial and ethnic health disparities.
Playing a Larger Role
As a major employer and as an insurer of more than 1.2 million Americans, we are working to play a larger role in the health benefits arena. To that end, we are transitioning from an inwardly-focused company to one that expands our influence to make a difference in the health care arena. As an example, Walmart's first Health Insights Panel was created in 2007 to serve as our external advisory group on health care. Members include representatives from Harvard Medical School, the National Business Group on Health, the New America Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and others. We are also mounting an aggressive stakeholder engagement campaign with non-profit organizations, policymakers and our colleagues in the business community.
As the nation's largest private employer, we also intend to play an active role in the health care reform debate in Washington, D.C. We have outlined a series of principles that guide our approach and our advocacy efforts as pending legislation moves through Congress. They are:
- Every person in America must have quality, affordable health insurance.
- Businesses, individuals and government must share the responsibility for financing and managing the American health care system.
- The health care system must reduce the financial strains on individuals, businesses and government by eliminating waste and unnecessary procedures, and by adopting technology that will bring efficiency and value into the system.
- Individuals have a responsibility to maintain and protect their health.
- America's health care system must be focused on health, not just the treatment of illness.
- Walmart will play a role as a retailer, employer and influencer by driving transformational changes in America's health care system.
In February 2007, Walmart; AT&T; the Howard H. Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy; the Center for American Progress; the Committee for Economic Development; the Communications Workers of America; Intel; Kelly Services and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) launched the Better Health Care Together Coalition. This partnership was formed in recognition of the fact that millions of Americans are living without health coverage and that by 2010, at the current rate, health care costs will be double what they were in 2000. Put another way: they'll be roughly one-fifth of the nation's GDP. That puts a tremendous burden on our government and our economy. Our participation in the Better Health Care Together coalition reflects our belief that business, labor and government must work together to solve the nation's health care challenges. And each should contribute to managing and financing a new American health care system.
U.S. Health Care Peer Comparison
In our most recent open enrollment period, 1,168,926 full-time and part-time associates were eligible for health benefits, representing nearly 80 percent of our total U.S. workforce. In comparison, according to the 2007 Kaiser Family Foundation Employer Health Benefits Survey, approximately 57 percent of workers in the retail sector are eligible for benefits.
The Hewitt Benefit Index® is a methodology used by more than 500 companies over the past 40 years to benchmark the competitive value of the complex array of benefit plans and provisions of various industry and labor market competitors; it has surmised that this higher percentage of eligible associates likely results from our policy of offering benefits to both full-time and part-time associates, a policy rare among other large retailers and grocers. The percentage of associates who reported having no coverage declined from 9.6 percent in 2007 to 5.5 percent in 2009 — a figure significantly lower than the 18.1 percent uninsured rate nationwide for U.S. employed workers recently reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. That's a 42.7 percent decrease in just two years. Hewitt also noted that Walmart's broad eligibility requirements rank us among the highest in our comparative set of 18 large retailers and grocers. Walmart scored 113.8 on health benefits, as compared to the average retail score of 100. Our score is a significant increase over last year's score of 102.