Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Benefits Assessment Memo Statement, October 26, 2005, (accessed August 24, 2006) (emphasis added); Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Wal-Marts Health Care Benefits are Competitive in the Retail Sector, July 7, 2006.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., My Benefits: Benefits at a Glance, January 1, 2007, p. 2; Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., My Benefits: Your 2007 Associate Benefits BookSummary Plan Description, January 1, 2007, p. 11. Human Rights Watch calculated the minimum amount a worker under the Value Plan must spend out of pocket in one year before receiving full healthcare benefits by adding the applicable annual deductible to the applicable out-of-pocket maximum. This figure, however, does not include per-event deductibles or pharmacy costs. As a result, annual out-of-pocket expenses before full coverage are likely even higher. See Appendix II for a discussion of coinsurance and the out-of-pocket maximum.
Although many of Wal-Marts long-term workers are covered by US anti-age-discrimination laws, Wal-Marts alleged efforts to force them out may pass legal muster. Older workers who believe that they are disparately impacted by neutral company policies, like Wal-Marts demo quotas, can only prevail against their employers in lawsuits alleging age discrimination if they show both that the policies disproportionately impact them as compared to other workers and that the policies are unreasonable means of achieving legitimate business goalsa very difficult burden to meet.
Wal-Mart denies it has such a policy. But an internal memo to Wal-Marts board of directors, written in fall 2005 by Susan Chambers, then executive vice president of benefits, shows, at a minimum, that the cost of long-term workers was a focus of high-level concern within Wal-Mart. The memo was ultimately leaked to the press. It states, in relevant part:
The leadership team’s determination and call for organizational growth, translates to both retaining current employees and enticing new candidates to join, an area in which a top employee benefits package is a major contributor....
Bernard Wysocki, Jr., and Ann Zimmerman, Bargain Hunter: Wal-Mart Cost-Cutting Finds a Big Target in Health Benefits, , September 30, 2003, citing Mercer Human Resources Consulting, a unit of Marsh and McLennan Companies.
Home Depot USA, Inc., Form 5500, Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan, filed with the US DOL, PWBA, and the US DOT, IRS, for period February 1, 2004, through January 31, 2005, (accessed August 25, 2006), Schedule H, part II(a)(1). Home Depots spending on its Medical and Dental Plan covers health and dental insurance. Ibid., part II, 8(b)
Target Corporation, Form 5500, Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan, filed with the US DOL, PWBA, and the US DOT, IRS, for period February 1, 2004, through January 31, 2005, (accessed August 25, 2006), Schedule H, part II(a)(1). Targets spending on its Comprehensive Medical Plan covers health and vision insurance. Ibid., part II, 8(b).
Costco Wholesale Corporation, Form 5500, Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan, filed with the US DOL, PWBA, and the US DOT, IRS, for period August 30, 2004, through August 28, 2005, Schedule H, part II(a)(1). Costcos spending on its Employee Benefits Program covers health, dental, and life insurance and long-term disability benefits. Ibid., part II, 8(b).
Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) and Health Research and Educational Trust (HRET), , September 26, 2006, (accessed January 12, 2007), p. 43. All figures cited from this study only consider those employers that offer health benefits to their workers.
This company has opportunities, and there are things that need to change. . . . I dont want to seem like Im bashing Wal-Mart. We want this company to succeed. Were human beings. If you keep your crew happy, they work their heart out for you. If Wal-Mart would go back to basics, treat workers justly and fairly, give workers a healthcare plan . . . Wal-Mart has the opportunity.
Other people of a more consumerist bent will be troubled not that I gave her the choice but that she paid virtually none of the expenses incurred by it. The nature of her insurance coverage guaranteed that. Her employer had offered her two options. One was a plan with a high deductible and a medical savings account that would have made her pay a substantial portion of the many-thousand-dollar operation. And this might have made her think harder about proceeding (or, at least, encouraged her to find someone cheaper). But, like many people, she didn’t want to be in that situation. So she chose the second option, which provided full coverage for cases like this one. She found it difficult enough to weigh her fears of the cancer against her fears of the operation—with its risks of life-threatening bleeding and voice damage—without having to put finances into the equation.
Kmart Corporation, Form 5500, Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan, filed with the US DOL, PWBA, and the USDOT, IRS, for period May 1, 2004, through April 30, 2005, (accessed August 25, 2006), Schedule H, part II(a)(1). Kmarts spending on its Medical Benefits Plan covers health and dental insurance. Ibid., part II, 8(b).