The company has gradually addressed longstanding criticisms that it does not provide for its workers by steadily increasing health care options for employees while simultaneously deepening its business reach into the health care market with low-cost generic drugs and in-store health clinics.
During an open enrollment period that begins Saturday, September 22, employees can choose from 50 health plans, up from nine previously, including an option that will include a credit worth as much as $500 to be used toward health care costs before a high deductible kicks in. Wal-Mart said its plan to expand to 2,400 the number of drugs available at a $4 co-pay would save employees $25 million in 2008.
Premiums range from $5 a month for a plan with a $2,000 deductible to $79 a month for a plan with a $500 deductible.
The announcement was made by Linda Dillman, Wal-Mart's executive vice president of risk management, benefits and sustainability. She said in a press release that the company used focus groups, town hall-style meetings and informal conversations to design the plan, which was endorsed by Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health.