Thursday, February 23, 2006

Wal-Mart Caves?

Wal-Mart stores, facing a raft of state legislation that would require it to increase spending on employee health insurance, will lift several of its long-standing — and most-criticized — restrictions on eligibility over the next year, the giant retailer said this morning.
Wal-Mart insures less than half of its 1.3 million employees in the United States and has come under growing criticism for skimping on benefits and shifting the cost of health care to state governments.

More affordable coverage is on the way.

At the same time, Wal-Mart said it would make a new health-care plan introduced in several regions this year, with premiums as low as $11 a month, available to half of its employees by next year.

But it won’t be without its’ detractors . . .

That plan allows for several prescriptions and doctors visits before a $1,000 deductible kicks in. But it is unlikely to cover a complicated illness or expensive hospital stay during the first year, when there is a $25,000 insurance cap. In addition, out-of-pocket payments range from $300 for prescriptions to $1,000 for hospital stays.

Seems generous to me, but the $25k cap is dangerously low. It will be interesting to watch this (I am certain) continuing saga.
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