BENTONVILLE, Ark. – September 18, 2007 – Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) today announced further improvements to the health care benefits it offers its 1.3 million full- and part-time U.S. associates. With more personalized choices, reduced deductibles, pre-deductible health care credits and a $4 co-pay for over 2,400 covered generic prescriptions, the new benefits package will be more valuable and affordable than ever. In fact, the company estimates the generic prescription program will save associates approximately $25 million in 2008. The company’s open enrollment period will start September 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,” said Linda Dillman, executive vice president of risk management, benefits and sustainability. “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.”
Highlights in the new 2008 benefits package include:
• The company has expanded the number of different health care plans that associates can choose among. Associates will now have more than 50 ways of customizing their health care coverage options, which will allow them to select various deductibles, health care credits and premiums, depending on their needs. This is a substantial increase from last year, when most associates had only nine choices.
• Associates who enroll in the Value Plan – which is becoming Wal-Mart’s most popular plan – will receive an annual pre-deductible health care credit for each covered family member. They will be able to choose a $100, $250 or $500 health care credit that can be used to pay for covered medical expenses before costs are applied to the annual deductible. Under this credit provision, the first $100, $250 or $500 in eligible medical expenses for each person covered by the plan are paid by the plan and not the participant.
Beyond the credit, once the deductible is met, eligible expenses are typically covered by the plan at 80 percent in network. Once the out-of-pocket maximum is met, the plan pays 100 percent of eligible expenses in the network – with no lifetime maximum.
• This year, associates can choose a health care plan premium that is right for them. A number of options are available based on associate choices. A few examples include:
- Premiums for less than $5 a month in some areas and no more than $8 per month nationwide. For this premium, associates will have individual health coverage that includes a $100 health care credit, more than 2,400 generic prescriptions for $4, a $2,000 deductible and no lifetime maximum.
- Premiums for less than $9 a month in some areas and no more than $13 per month nationwide. For this premium, associates will have individual health coverage that includes a $100 health care credit, more than 2,400 generic prescriptions for $4, a $1,000 deductible and no lifetime maximum.
- Premiums for less than $12 a month in some areas and no more than $24 per month nationwide. For this premium, associates will have individual health coverage that includes a $250 health care credit, more than 2,400 generic prescriptions for $4, a $1,000 deductible and no lifetime maximum.
- Premiums for less than $62 a month in some areas and no more than $79 per month nationwide. For this premium, associates will have individual health coverage that includes a $100 health care credit, more than 2,400 generic prescriptions for $4, a $500 deductible and no lifetime maximum.
• Deductibles have been lowered. Inpatient and outpatient hospital deductibles have been removed from the Value Plan this year, saving associates as much as $3,000 over the current Value Plan.
• As in the past, minor children of a Wal-Mart associate will be eligible for health benefits as soon as the parent is eligible. With a $250 health care credit and $1,000 deductible, all associates can add coverage for children for less than 50 cents per day, no matter how many children an associate has on the plan. Other coverage options are also available.
• Associates will be able to get more than 2,400 different generic prescriptions for $4 as compared to less than 20 generic drugs last year at $3.
Some examples of associate savings include:
- Leflunomide, the generic version of Arava, a drug used to reduce inflammation and swelling from rheumatoid arthritis, will drop from about $28 to $4 for a commonly prescribed dosage.
- Azithromycin, the generic version of Zithromax, an antibiotic, will drop from $10.54 to $4 for a commonly prescribed dosage.
- Simvastatin, the generic version of Zocor, a drug used to reduce cholesterol, will drop from about $8 to $4 for a commonly prescribed dosage.
“Wal-Mart has added benefits that associates value,” said Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health. “Their addition of such a broad $4 generic prescription plan will not only help their associates with a valuable benefit but will make the entire prescription drug industry more affordable and competitive.”
Darling added, “Wal-Mart’s benefits for part-timers are unusually good for the retail industry – in fact, for a number of industries.”
In making the announcement, Dillman said that the company engaged associates through a variety of methods, including focus groups, formal surveys, ‘town hall’ meetings and informal conversations to determine what was most important to them.
Also this year, Wal-Mart is taking additional steps to help associates get information about the enrollment process and coverage options. “Enrollment Made Easy,” a DVD designed to walk associates through the enrollment process, will be mailed this month to the home of every Wal-Mart associate. The video explains the changes and enhancements to the benefits package, outlines steps to personalizing medical choices and previews decision-support tools and how to use them.
Associates can also go online to access materials and enrollment forms, and use a specially designed web-based tool that helps them evaluate the coverage that best fits their needs.
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.