Does Walmart still support health care reform?

Let's play pundit.... It looks like there's going to be a health care reform bill, a weak one without a public option or a Medicare buy-in, for which the only vehicle for driving down costs is an insurance exchange. Let's do a thought experiment inspired by Jonathan Chait of the New Republic:
Why can’t people afford insurance now? Well, either they don’t get it through work and can’t afford a regular insurance plan (say, a cashier at Wal Mart who doesn’t get insurance through her job) or they have a preexisting condition which means no insurer will sell them a regular insurance plan (say, a diabetic who can’t get insurance on the individual market.) Or sometimes both (a diabetic Wal Mart cashier, perhaps.)
A diabetic Walmart cashier should be delighted by the Senate Bill (the inevitable model for the final bill thanks to Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman) as they'll be able to buy insurance despite their pre-existing condition that they will certainly need. But what about the healthy Walmart workers out there? Think about it. You've chosen not to buy insurance from Walmart because their cheapest plans, the only ones you could ever hope to afford on your meager salary, have incredibly high deductibles. Can a private insurance company do better than Walmart even with government subsidies and still make money from a bill that is supposed to save money in the long run? I doubt it. And even if the insurance exchange idea works (and I hope it does), the mandate in the bill forces some people to buy something that they didn't buy otherwise. That's a huge new out-of-pocket expense. So what are you going to do? Blame the government? Of course you are, but that isn't this going to make the mandate go away. Your wage, on the other hand, is something you can affect and it's going to look even more shabby than it used to thanks to HCR. What can you do about your wages? Changing your job would be an easy solution, but maybe - just maybe - you might think about joining a union. After all, what do you have to lose any more? I strongly suspect that under the bill unemployed people are one of the few groups that won't have to buy health insurance after the bill passes. A strong health care reform bill would have taken one of Walmart's biggest problems off its books and put it onto the books of the federal government. This one, on the other hand, might just make one of its other biggest problems (controlling an increasingly belligerent labor force) even worse.

5 Responses to “Does Walmart still support health care reform?”

  1. melton thornton says:

    I’m a little bit offenend by your statement about belligerent worker’s. My wife has worked for Wal-marts for more than five years now and has never had a harsh word to say about a compny that has allowed us to totally rebuild our lives.
    In all of my trips to the store I have never heard anyone who works around my wife say a negative word about Wal-marts are any of the management. I’ve seen specials on tv that play Wal-marts as the villian, but from where my wife and I stand I think it’s the best job in America.

  2. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Melton,

    First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to add to the dialog. Building our community depends upon our conversations.

    I was with you until you got to the best job in America.

    In any population of people there will be a bell curve describing their behavior/attitude toward specific elements of that population. It is good that your wife is on the high side of the curve. Here at The Writing On The Wal, however, we try to speak about those less fortunate than your wife.



  3. Holly J says:

    Jeff, again, disappointed how quickly a positive comment is dismissed. Not sure where you are employed but, do you think I could find disgruntled co workers where you are? Best job in America?…doubt it. But for many people it is a very good job for their position in life. Hate to rehash…but here goes…no college degree here and had chance to run a store and move into the home office. I started as a stocker, filling shelves after working for a union grocer in Michigan. We have opportunities with Walmart. It was my choice to make sacrifices to pursue it and move up. I get it. You hate Walmart. Understood. Just know that the vast majority of walmart associates like the company they work for.

  4. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Holly,

    I’m a journalist by profession and I’ve always tried to live by the admonition that the true work of any Journalist is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.

    I don’t hate Walmart (that tired Republican talking point that anyone who disagrees with you must hate what you stand for is so last century). Walmart is a corporation, an artificial creation intended for two purposes: first to increase shareholder wealth and second to protect the officers of the company from responsibility for their actions while pursuing purpose one.

    In my world, people are more important than any corporation and I do not accept the fiction that the corporation is beneficial. I am unwilling to accept that something is better than nothing and therefore everyone should be content with their with their exploited lot.

    For a recent example, take a look at the story I posted yesterday about how Walmart treats the 401(k) plans of its employees. Just because Walmart allows you to work for it under its terms does not make Walmart good or even your friend.



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