Bowing to Critics, Wal-Mart Overhauls Health Plans

Retail giant insures less than half of its workforce
By Jim O'Neill,  Newser User
Posted Nov 13, 2007 10:55 AM CST
A customer leaves a Wal-Mart in Mountain View, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2007. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Wal-Mart’s reputation for high-cost, low-benefit employee health care has led to battles with politicians, communities, and organized labor. The bad publicity hurt its reputation and, ultimately, its bottom line. Now, reports the New York Times, the nation’s largest private employer has a new prescription for health care, offering employees more affordable plans.

Even with easier eligibility and more choices, just 48% of Wal-Mart's 1.4 million employees have signed up for some form of insurance. The retail giant hasn’t abandoned its penny-pinching culture, but its attempt to expand coverage has silenced many critics. Not all of them, though: “It’s optics—it looks pretty,” said a union negotiator.