In 2005, Wal-Mart employees had to work 2 years before qualifying for the company health plan, which most considered to be an expensive joke, anyway.
Then, an activist group publicized a confidential company memo saying that health expenses could be cut by not hiring sick people.
This was going down just when towns were protesting store openings, unions were underwriting nasty campaigns, teachers were telling students to take their back-to-school business elsewhere and the company’s stock price was languishing.
But the world’s largest company has made great strides since then.
First, Wal-Mart cut the wait to enroll in the health plan to one year for part-timers and 6 months for full-timers. That made 50,000 more employees eligible in one year.
Then it expanded the menu of insurance coverage options and extended to some employees a credit of up to $500 to offset any health-related expense.
Next, it extended its popular $4 generic drug plan from the 350 drugs available to consumers to greater than 2,000 for employees.
The retailer subsequently cut a preferred-provider deal with Mayo Clinic of all places to cover transplant services for its employees.
The company’s latest foray, Life with Baby, targets premature birth rates among Wal-Mart employees, which are twice the national average.
Expecting moms get paired with a nurse who advises them on diet, smoking, stress reduction and the like. Lactation counseling and vaccination programs are available to moms after that.
“Wow, it was really good. It helped me so much,” Cristina Majano told the Washington Post. The 23-year-old new mom works for Wal-Mart in Virginia.
Nowadays, only 5.5% of Wal-Mart employees lack health insurance. That’s much lower than the national rate, which is 18%.
Nice job fellas!