BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Jan. 11, 2007 – Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., (NYSE: WMT) released its recent benefits enrollment numbers today. The company reported that enrollment numbers and survey data indicate that 90.4 percent of associates have health coverage, whether through Wal-Mart or another source such as a spouse, Medicare, a parent, another employer, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or other government programs.
This year’s open enrollment period represents a nearly 8-percent increase in the number of eligible associates who signed up for Wal-Mart’s plans. There was also an 11.3-percent increase for enrollment in its “associate-plus-children” offering.
The company said that of those associates who were eligible for enrollment, 636,391 associates enrolled in Wal-Mart’s plans during the fall 2006 open enrollment period. This means that 47.4 percent of Wal-Mart’s 1.3 million associates are covered by its health plans. Additionally, Wal-Mart’s open enrollment surveys, with more than 200,000 participants, indicated that 43 percent of associates have health care coverage through another source, bringing the total to 90.4 percent for associates who have health insurance through Wal-Mart or another source. Associates receiving health care from other sources cited the following for their health care coverage:
- 22.2 percent – Spouse;
- 4.5 percent – Medicare;
- 4.2 percent – Parents, school or college;
- 3.4 percent – Another – or a previous – employer;
- 2.5 percent – Individual policy;
- 2.3 percent – VA or military;
- 1.9 percent – Medicaid;
- 1.2 percent – State program other than Medicaid; and
- 0.8 percent – Another source than those listed above.
Total: 43 percent
Wal-Mart’s open enrollment survey also found that among those associates who chose its coverage for the first time:
- 53.2 percent said they were previously uninsured;
- 27.5 percent said they could not afford coverage previously;
- 9.4 percent said there was not a plan that met their needs previously; and
- 7.8 percent said they came off Medicaid.
“When I took this position eight months ago, I challenged my team to take a closer look at our enrollment numbers and examine why our associates choose our coverage or not,” said Linda Dillman, executive vice president of risk management, benefits and sustainability. “Over the past three years, we’ve seen steady increases in associates who take our plans. We are also very pleased to see that we are moving people from the uninsured list to the insured list. Our associates are telling us these are the health plans they want and need.”
The survey also showed that 9.6 percent of associates do not have any type of health care coverage. “We are not satisfied that 9.6 percent of associates still do not have any type of health coverage,” said Dillman. “We will continue to work hard to get a better understanding of why people decline health care coverage, and what we can do to help.”
Dillman attributed some of the increased numbers to efforts the company has made in the past year to help associates understand the importance of coverage. Wal-Mart publishes enrollment magazines and uses paycheck reminders, videos, conference calls and leadership training to educate associates about its health and benefits. This year, the company increased its use of Web-based resources, personal scenario builders and a health savings account calculator.
In the recent open enrollment period, 1,024,894 full-time and part-time associates were eligible for health benefits, representing 76.3 percent of the workforce. According to a 2006 Kaiser Family Foundation survey, approximately 59 percent of workers in the retail sector are eligible for benefits. This higher percentage of eligible associates results from Wal-Mart’s policy of offering benefits to both its full-time and part-time associates, which is unique among other large retailers and grocers, according to The Hewitt Benefit Index®, conducted by Hewitt Associates, a benefits consulting firm.
Hewitt noted that Wal-Mart’s broad eligibility ranks it among the highest in its comparative set of 20 large retailers and grocers. Full-time Wal-Mart associates are typically eligible for coverage after six months of work, while part-time associates are eligible after 12 months.
In addition to showing that Wal-Mart’s health benefits are competitive (while the average retail score is 100, the company scored 102.0), the Hewitt Benefit Index also showed that Wal-Mart scored 217.4 on retirement savings benefits and 104.8 on overall benefits. Dillman noted that the next closest employer to Wal-Mart in the retirement savings benefits category scored 199.1.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. operates Wal-Mart discount stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and Sam’s Club locations in the United States. The Company operates in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom. The Company’s securities are listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol WMT. More information about Wal-Mart can be found by visiting www.walmartfacts.com. Online merchandise sales are available at www.walmart.com.
About the Hewitt Benefit Index®
Hewitt’s Benefit Index methodology has been used by more than 500 companies over the past 40 years to benchmark the competitive value of the complex array of benefit plans and provisions of various industry and labor market competitors. It calculates the relative employer-provided value of Wal-Mart’s benefits compared to 20 large retailers and grocers based on a common representative employee population.