BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Searching for ways to control escalating health care costs while acknowledging a need to repair its image with critics, Wal-Mart Stores here is considering what it called "bold steps" -- including additional rollout of health care centers in its stores and encouraging a younger, healthier workforce -- to revise its benefit program for workers.
company should avoid hiring unhealthy workers and noted that worker productivity increases at a slower rate than wage raises, as reported in the New York Times last week.
The white paper states that Wal-Mart's benefit costs are growing by 15% yearly and unabated could consume 12% of total profits by 2012, but that the company's health care program is vulnerable to at least some criticisms, especially with regard the affordability of coverage and associates' reliance on Medicaid.
It noted that implementation could result in tradeoffs of cost, employee satisfaction and protection from external scrutiny. The recommendations were based on a study of employee attitudes and internal analysis with the help of McKinsey & Co.
In a speech to employees earlier last week, Lee Scott, chairman and chief executive officer, Wal-Mart, said the company would introduce a new "value option" health insurance plan on Jan. 1. It would offer coverage for $23 a month, with children covered for less than 50 cents per day, and coverage for $11 a month in some areas, with children covered for less than 30 cents per day. He said Wal-Mart also plans to increase the choice of plans and benefits offered to better meet the needs of a diverse population and "provide the tools, education and incentives for associates to take more personal responsibility for their own health care spending and their own lifestyle choices."