Wal-Mart Announces Increase in Employees with Health Care Coverage

February 13, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Wal-Mart Stores, which has frequently been criticized for not providing sufficient health care coverage for workers, announced that the proportion of associates who have health care coverage through its benefits plans for 2009 or another source has increased to 94.5%.

That is up from 92.7% a year ago (see Wal-Mart Enrollment Shows Healthy Trends ). Over 733,000 or 51.8% of associates – and nearly 1.2 million associates and dependants in total – were covered by Wal-Mart’s plans at the end of its annual enrollment period, according to the announcement on the company’s Web site.

The company also announced that the number of uninsured associates has dropped by nearly 25% in the past year and by more than 40% between 2007 and 2009. The announcement claimed that compared to the most recently reported data by the U.S. Census Bureau, Wal-Mart’s uninsured rate of 5.5% is 11.3% lower than the uninsured rate nationwide for the U.S. employed population (16.8%).

During its open enrollment period in the fall, the nation’s largest retailer announced the addition of wellness programs and access to personal health records to its health care benefits offering (see Wal-Mart to Expand Employee Health Care Efforts with Wellness Programs ). In 2007, Wal-Mart made some significant changes to its health care benefits for 2008, including an increased number of plan choices and premium choices and a decrease in prescription drug prices (see Wal-Mart Shakes Up 2008 Health Care Benefits ).

Conflict over Wal-Mart’s health care benefits practices and whether a disproportionate number of its workers were enrolled in state and federal health care programs culminated with an effort in Maryland to pass a law some dubbed the ‘Wal-Mart Health Care Bill’ requiring large employers to dedicate a certain percent of payroll to employee health care benefits (see MD Abandons ‘Wal-Mart’ Health Care Bill Fight ).

Additional information and graphs about the findings of the open enrollment survey are available at www.walmartfacts.com .