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10/26/2005

WAL-MART OFFERS SHAM HEALTH CARE PLAN AS PUBLICITY STUNT

Source: UFCW

New Name, Same Basic Plan - Extremely High Deductibles & Strict Eligibility Requirements

Today, Wal-Mart's CEO Lee Scott is announcing Wal-Mart's "new" health care plans for 2006. Wal-Mart falsely claims its plans will increase the number of employees who can afford health insurance. In fact, Wal-Mart's so-called "new" Value Plan is simply a repackaging of the poor health care plans Wal-Mart already offers, which already leave over half of its employees without company provided health care.

"Wal-Mart's new health care plan is another empty promise wrapped in a publicity stunt that will do nothing to increase health care coverage for over 600,000 Wal-Mart employees who go without company provided health care," said Paul Blank, campaign director of WakeUpWalMart.com.

"Wal-Mart fails to address the key reasons more than half of its employees aren't covered under their health care plan - ridiculously high deductible costs and overly strict eligibility requirements. Wal-Mart latest publicity stunt will do nothing to help their employees and is more reflective of a morally bankrupt company trying to deceive the American public than live up to its responsibilities as America's largest corporation," added Blank.

Here are the facts.

Last year, Wal-Mart had two major health care plan options: 1) the Standard plan and 2) the Network plan. Each of those plans has 4 options within them: 1) a $350 deductible; 2) a $500 deductible; 3) a $750 deductible; and, 4) a $1,000 deductible.

This year, Wal-Mart is introducing two additional options: 1) a so-called Value plan and 2) Health Savings Accounts (HSA's). Since the HSA's are only available to employees who have already been enrolled in a Wal-Mart health care plan for one year, the HSA's are not designed to, nor will the HSA's, increase health care coverage for anyone.

Therefore, the only plan that has the potential to increase the abysmal fact that Wal-Mart only provides health insurance coverage to 48% of its employees is the Value plan. The Value plan, however, comes with a $1,000 deductible. In addition, the Value plan has additional deductibles for in-hospital care, prescription drugs and surgical care. All told, the Value plan's deductibles plus premiums could be as much as 25% of an employee's take-home pay for individual coverage and up to 40% for family coverage.

Even more disturbing is the fact that the Value plan is almost identical, if not worse, than the $1,000 deductible versions of the existing Standard and Network plans already offered to Wal-Mart employees.

The following is a comparison of the rates between Wal-Mart's proposed plan for 2006 and last year's plans.

Jan. 2005 Jan 2006
Network Plan $1000 deductible $17.50 $18
Standard Plan $1000 deductible $21.00 $21.50
Value Plan $1000 deductible Not Available $25 (on average)
$10.50 (limited areas)


Wal-Mart's business model has already paved the way for other corporations to try and reduce their health benefits to employees. Currently, the average company with 200 or more employees has 67% of its workers covered under the company health care plan, Wal-Mart is well below that average with only 48% of its employees covered under the company health care plan.

"Wal-Mart's so-called Value health care plan offers nothing but an empty promise of higher deductibles that remain unaffordable and out-of-reach to most Wal-Mart workers. With Wal-Mart's poverty-level wages, the average worker would have to spend up to 40% of their take-home pay to purchase the family option of this so-called Value plan. No wonder Wal-Mart admits the taxpayer-funded public safety net is often a 'better value' than their own inadequate health care plan."

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