Wal-Mart Improves Employees' Health Benefits for 2008

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (Bentonville, Ark.) on Sept. 18 announced improvements in the health care benefits it offers to 1.3 million U.S. workers, including reduced deductibles, pre-deductible health care credits, and a $4 co-pay for some 2,400 generic prescriptions. Wal-Mart said it estimates the generic prescription program will save workers about $25 million in 2008; the company's open enrollment period starts Sept. 22.

"We worked closely with our associates to design an even more affordable health benefits package based on what they told us they wanted and needed," Linda Dillman, executive vice president of risk management, benefits and sustainability, said in the company's news release. "Ninety percent of our associates now have health insurance, and we want that number to increase. Our health coverage next year will be even stronger, offer more options, and give people more tools to help them save money and live better lives."

The company has expanded the number of available health care plans, giving its workers more than 50 ways to customize their coverage. The Value Plan, which the company said is becoming its most popular plan, offers an annual pre-deductible $100, $250, or $500 health care credit for each covered family member. Inpatient and outpatient hospital deductibles have been removed from the Value Plan, which will save enrollees as much as $3,000. As in the past, minor children of a Wal-Mart worker will be eligible for health benefits as soon as the parent is eligible.

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