Expanded Eligibility for Part-Time Associates, Children to Start May 13 and Cost of Medicines for Many Common Conditions Reduced in 2007
WASHINGTON, April 17, 2006 -- In a speech today at the World Health Care Congress, Susan Chambers, executive vice president of the people division of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT), announced additional changes to Wal-Mart's health benefits as part of the company's ongoing efforts to provide affordable, accessible healthcare for its associates.
"Working families want three things when it comes to health care: affordability, accessibility, and security," said Ms. Chambers. "These improvements offer every associate -- both full-time and part-time -- and their children the health coverage they need at a price they can afford."
Ms. Chambers highlighted key changes Wal-Mart is making including decreasing co-pays on generic medications for common conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and infections from $10 to $3; expanding health benefits to children of part-time associates; and reducing the waiting period for part-time associate eligibility by half. The eligibility requirements for full-time associates will not change.
The speech highlighted the uniqueness of Wal-Mart's part-time offering. "Keep in mind that covering part-time employees is not the norm," she said. "But every American deserves healthcare and we want to lead by taking this step. We hope that others in the retail community will work with us to do the same."
Ms. Chambers said that its commitment to associates is so important that Wal-Mart will hold a special enrollment period in mid-May, in additional to the traditional October enrollment. The reduced waiting period for part-time associates and the extension of coverage to their children will make more than 150,000 part-time associates eligible for initial or enhanced coverage during the special enrollment period.
The speech highlighted these and other improvements to Wal-Mart's benefits offerings.
The following changes will take effect on May 13th:
- Reduce the waiting period by half for part-time associates. All Wal-Mart associates -- both part-time and full-time -- can enroll in company plans after no more than 12 months of work; and
- Offer health coverage for children of all eligible Wal-Mart full-time and part-time associates.
- Expand the list of $3 generic prescriptions, previously offered at $10, for common conditions in January 2007;
- Offer discounts of approximately 20 percent on prescription drugs otherwise not covered on the health plan in January 2007;
- Expand the availability of the Value Plan option at $11 per month for individuals and $9 more per month for children to nearly half of all associates by the end of the year;
- Enhance the company's contribution to health savings accounts by providing a contribution of up to $1200 and an additional match of up to $1200, beginning in January 2007; and
- Provide a 10 percent associate discount on healthy foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, in Wal-Mart stores and SAM'S CLUBS.
Other changes highlighted include:
The co-pay reduction for maintenance drugs for common conditions is another step that will drive down healthcare costs for associates Ms. Chambers said. "If each of Wal-Mart's covered associates fills just two of these prescriptions a year, they will collectively save over $7 million in prescription drug costs. With almost 3.3 billion prescriptions filled in the United States in 2004, we can only wonder how much U.S. employees could save if other employers joined us in this effort to lower co-pays for commonly prescribed medicines."
The Value Plan was successfully introduced during Wal-Mart's last enrollment period. In October 2005, nearly 70,000 associates who had previously waived coverage signed up for company plans. Of those, about 78 percent were previously uninsured, and one third of these previously uninsured associates chose the Value Plan.
Ms. Chambers emphasized Wal-Mart's willingness to work with other employers represented in the room to make healthcare more affordable and accessible to working families. "We know we can't do it alone. No one can. So we need to work collaboratively. It won't be easy, but it will be worth it," she concluded. "Because it's not about Wal-Mart or any other organization ... . It's about giving our associates the opportunity to get the healthcare they need at a price they can afford. That's our goal. And we should not -- and we will not -- rest until we achieve it."
The speech is available in its entirety on http://www.walmartfacts.com .
About Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. operates Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and SAM'S CLUB locations in the United States. The company also operates in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, South Korea and the United Kingdom. The company's securities are listed on the New York and Pacific stock exchanges under the symbol WMT. More information about Wal-Mart can be found by visiting http://www.walmartfacts.com . Online merchandise sales are available at http://www.walmart.com and http://www.samsclub.com
SOURCE Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Dan Fogleman of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., +1-479-273-4314