2008 Open Enrollment Data Shows That 92.7 Percent Of Wal-Mart Associates Now Have Health Coverage
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., (NYSE: WMT) announced today that the number of associates who now have health care coverage through its new associate-tailored plans for 2008 or another source has significantly increased from 90.4 percent to 92.7 percent, and the number of uninsured associates decreased by more than 20 percent, compared to one year ago.
“Over the past few years, we’ve spent a lot of time listening to our associates and working closely with them to design a benefits package that better meets their needs,” said Linda Dillman, executive vice president of benefits and risk management for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. “Just as in the last few years, we are pleased to see an increase in enrollment numbers. With 690,970 associates – and more than 1.1 million associates and dependants in total – now covered by Wal-Mart’s plans, we can see that the improvements we’ve made are being embraced by our associates and their families.”
According to data collected in a survey during the fall 2007 open enrollment period, more than 30,000 associates who chose Wal-Mart’s coverage for the first time reported being previously uninsured.
During the past year, the percentage of associates who reported having no coverage declined from 9.6 percent to 7.3 percent – a figure significantly lower than the 17.7 percent uninsured rate nationwide for U.S. employed workers that was recently reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Wal-Mart also announced that the company will commission a study to better understand associates who have declined coverage by researching why they choose to go without health coverage and identifying things that can be done to encourage them to accept health care coverage in the future.
“We are thrilled that we have moved a significant amount of our associates off the list of uninsured,” said Dillman. “While the number of uninsured Wal-Mart associates is less than half of the national average, it is still too high. Our goal is to have every eligible associate select health care coverage and we will share our learnings externally so that we can help advance the overall national discussion about access to coverage and the impact on the uninsured.”
Wal-Mart’s open enrollment survey, with 802,091 participants, indicated that as of November 9, 2007, 92.7 percent of associates have health care coverage, including the 50.2 percent of associates who have coverage through Wal-Mart’s plan. Associates surveyed cited the following sources for their health care coverage:
* 50.2 percent – Wal-Mart plan;
* 22.3 percent – Spouse;
* 7.3 percent – Uninsured;
* 4.3 percent – Medicare;
* 4.2 percent – Parents, school or college;
* 3.2 percent – Other/previous employer;
* 2.4 percent – Individual policy;
* 2.3 percent – VA or military;
* 1.9 percent – Medicaid;
* 1.2 percent – State program other than Medicaid; and
* 0.7 percent – Another source than those listed above.
Total: 100 percent
In the recent open enrollment period, 1,086,881 full-time and part-time associates were eligible for health benefits, representing 79 percent of the workforce. According to the 2007 Kaiser Family Foundation employer health benefits survey, approximately 57 percent of workers in the retail sector are eligible for benefits. This higher percentage of eligible associates results from Wal-Mart’s policy of offering benefits to both its full-time and part-time associates, a policy unique among other large retailers and grocers, according to The Hewitt Benefit Index®, conducted by Hewitt Associates, a benefits consulting firm.
Hewitt noted that Wal-Mart’s broad eligibility ranks it among the highest in its comparative set of 18 large retailers and grocers. Wal-Mart scored 113.8 on health benefits, as compared to the average retail score of 100. This score is an increase from Wal-Mart’s score last year of 102.0 in health benefits.
Dillman pointed to the recent changes in Wal-Mart’s benefit plans as being a key factor in increasing enrollment rates. The company added more personalized choices, lower deductibles, pre-deductible health care credits and a $4 co-pay for more than 2,000 covered generic prescriptions, among other changes. As in previous years, children of every associate – both full-time and part time – qualify for health insurance when the parent qualifies.
Wal-Mart also took extra steps to get associates health coverage and enrollment information, including an “Enrollment Made Easy” DVD mailed to every associate’s home. Associates could also go online to access materials and enrollment forms, and use a specially designed web-based tool that helped them evaluate the coverage that best meets their needs.
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