Sunday, August 01, 2004

healthcare on the cheap

gross anatomy has an interesting rant about wal-mart's healthcare practices. basically, they don't have any. via the documents linked to in his post:

Employers who don't provide affordable coverage are abusing the system and their workers by passing the costs onto the taxpayers, other businesses and their workers. Wal-Mart, the largest private employer in the US is also the largest abuser of the system. High insurance premiums and deductibles keep more than two-thirds of Wal-Mart workers—that's nearly 700,000 workers—from participating in the Wal-Mart health plan. Traditional supermarket employees have about 80% coverage.
Wal-Mart’s actions shifts $1 billion onto the shoulders of other employers and taxpayers.
On a wage of $8.00 an hour with about 32 hours a week--$1,000 a month, most associates can’t afford even the low end range of Wal-Mart health insurance, $250 a month, or 25% of their gross income for Wal-Mart’s family health insurance.
[...quotes below are from the second article...]
A snapshot of Georgia's program for uninsured children shows that it's packed with kids of Wal-Mart employees. A state survey found 10,261 of the 166,000 children covered by Georgia's PeachCare for Kids health insurance in September 2002 had a parent working for Wal-Mart Stores. That's about 14 times the number for next highest employer: Publix, with 734.
The ratio of Wal-Mart employees' children per company worker in Georgia, though, greatly exceeds those of Publix and Shaw Industries and Mohawk Industries, the Nos. 3 and 4 employers on the PeachCare list.

Wal-Mart, with 42,000 workers in the state in 2002, had about one child in the health care program for every four employees. The ratio for Publix was one child in PeachCare for every 22 employees. For Shaw, it was one for every 30 employees, and for Mohawk, one for every 26 workers.
About half of Wal-Mart's U.S. workers are covered under the company medical plan, considered a low participation rate for large companies. But Fogleman said the total of employees with health insurance is 90 percent, because many get coverage through a spouse, a parent or a government program such as Medicare.
Wal-Mart workers can buy individual coverage for as low as $15.25 every two weeks and family coverage for $66.25, Fogleman said. But those options have a deductible of $1,000, meaning that care is paid for by the employee until that ceiling is reached. Then Wal-Mart covers 80 percent of further costs. Wal-Mart says its average spending on medical benefits per employee is $3,100 per year. That's less than the industry average --- about $4,400 for large retailers --- as calculated by Mercer Human Resource Consulting.
The retail industry typically offers less-generous benefits and imposes longer exclusion periods than others, in part because of high employee turnover, noted Werner Gliebe of Segal Co., an employee benefits and human resources consulting firm. Wal-Mart employees pay about one-third of their health care premiums. That's typical of retailers and exceeds the 20 percent paid by an average Fortune 500 company worker, said Gliebe. "You have a double whammy: People who are lower-paid having to contribute one-third of the cost," Gliebe said. Typically, as a result, fewer employees of retail companies enroll in their benefits plan, he added.

sometimes, wal-mart makes jesus angry.


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