“New” Wal-Mart Health Plan Still Has $1000 Deductible

The New York Times breaks the story this morning of changes in Wal-Mart's health care plan for its employees:
Wal-Mart, which has long been criticized for the benefits it offers to its workers, is introducing a cheaper health insurance plan, with monthly premiums as low as $11, that the company hopes will greatly increase the number of its employees who can afford coverage.
The problem is (and you knew there was going to be a problem, didn't you?) that just like the old health insurance plan, the new plan has a $1000 deductible:
Those who participate will pay a $1,000 deductible, the maximum under Wal-Mart's insurance for 2005. Monthly premiums will be, on average, less than $25 for an individual, $37 for a single parent and $65 for a family. The $11 premium, for individuals, will be available in a handful of areas, Mr. Fogleman said. But the plan is unlikely to cover a complicated illness or expensive hospital stay during the first year, when there is a $25,000 insurance cap. (The cap is lifted for the second year.) Out-of-pocket payments range from $300 for prescriptions to $1,000 for hospital stays.
The exact details of the plan haven't been released yet, but do a little reading between the lines of the NYT story and you can tell they won't be pretty:
But analysts cautioned that the new insurance plan would prove a better fit for workers who are young and healthy than those who are older and more vulnerable to illness. A 60-year-old Wal-Mart employee, they noted, might visit a doctor three times in a one month and then need to pay $1,000 before the company would share the cost of care. Given that many Wal-Mart employees are paid less than $19,000 a year, the deductible "is pretty significant," said Charles N. Kahn, president of the Federation of American Hospitals. [emphasis added]
This paragraph makes an obvious point: a $1000 deductible is huge for workers who, on average, make less than $20,000/year. It doesn't mention that under the old plan it took at least six months to qualify for health benefits at Wal-Mart and since Wal-Mart has a 45% turnover rate, many workers won't make it even that long. But check out what I highlighted above. Even after a Wal-Mart employee throws in $1000, the company still only shares the cost of care. This health plan sounds like a sick joke. Or perhaps a P.R. move in response to pressure. "No," says Wal-Mart:
Asked if the new insurance plan was in response to growing criticism, [Wal-Mart spokesman Dan Fogelman] said, "It's fair to say we are listening, but more so to our associates than anyone else."
Dan, I guarantee you, this wasn't what they wanted. This is just typical Wal-Mart: lower the price for a poor-quality product. But health care isn't just another piece of cheap plastic crap, and Wal-Mart's employees are smart enough to know the difference.

5 Responses to ““New” Wal-Mart Health Plan Still Has $1000 Deductible”

  1. […] l Mart buzz was the annoucement concerning the revamping of its employee health care plan. Jonathan Rees posted on the broad scope of the plan but wrote that the details weren’t […]

  2. […] l Mart buzz was the annoucement concerning the revamping of its employee health care plan. Jonathan Rees posted on the broad scope of the plan but wrote that the details weren’t […]

  3. […] e memo came out, Lee Scott announced changes to the Wal-Mart healthcare program. It still has a $1000 deductible. Way to go on actually solving problems, people! pp. 4-5 […]

  4. this catastrophic/accident insurance(as quoted by a helpful associates at our benefits office at the homeoffice) does not share the costs after the deductible has been met. this coverage will pay 80/20 of medically necessary services. which in walmart lingo means services that they deem medically necessary. i have all the paper work and benefit books from 2002. this memo and its BOLD steps were not concerned with the associates opinion of their insurance this memo was designed to see how to help walmarts bottom line and their public image. so much for out name tags that say “our associates make a difference”

  5. […] ;s the quality. and the quality stinks. For one thing, Wal-Mart’s health insurance has a $1000 deductible. You read that right, one and three zeroes. Furthermore, it doesn’t cover […]

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