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2004-11-07
Madison, WI. Wisconsin Taxpayers Spend Millions to Subsidize Wal-Mart workers.

Wal-Mart insists that it gives its workers a decent health care plan, but the workers may be voting with their feet. Critics have charged that many Wal-Mart workers end up on state-funded health care plans, giving Wal-Mart a big, fat subsidy at taxpayer's expense. The Capital Times newspaper reports today that there are 1,176 Wal-Mart employees and 638 children enrolled in BadgerCare, a state-funded health insurance plan, along with 1,952 children of Wal-Mart workers who are covered by Medicaid, the state/federal health plan for low-income people. The newspaper reports that the state of Wisconsin is providing health insurance for 3,766 people who are Wal-Mart employees or the spouses and children of Wal-Mart employees, according to Jim Malone, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services. Wal-Mart has 25,861 employees in Wisconsin, and the company claims that 53% of them have insurance coverage through Wal-Mart. Yet the annual taxpayer cost of paying for health care coverage for Wal-Mart employees and their families in Wisconsin is $4.75 million, with the state covering $1.8 million of that sum. The rest comes from the federal government, which splits the costs of BadgerCare and Medicaid with the state. BadgerCare is Wisconsin's health insurance program for low-income working families. Eligibility for a family on Medicaid in Wisconsin is $647 monthly income for a family of three. Eligibility for BadgerCare is $2,906 per month for a family of three. Federal taxpayers pick up 79% of BadgerCare, and 60% of Medicaid costs. This Wisconsin story comes on the heels of a New York Times story that 10,000 children of Wal-Mart employees are in the state of Georgia's health program for children, at an annual cost of nearly $10 million to taxpayers. The New York Times also said that Wal-Mart employees without company insurance are costing California $32 million per year. Proposition 72, a California ballot measure that would have required large employers like Wal-Mart to either provide affordable health insurance to their workers or pay into a state insurance pool, was narrowly defeated on November 2nd. Wal-Mart contributed at least $500,000 to the campaign to kill Proposition 72. Wal-Mart says that it does not encourage its workers to sign up for subsidized health care. "Historically, 50% of Wal-Mart associates are covered by health insurance through our program and 40% through another plan. About two-thirds are senior citizens, college students or second income workers - so they receive health insurance through a parent, a spouse or a retirement plan. We currently provide health coverage to more than 500,000 families in the United States." That figures out to 41% of Wal-Mart's 1.2 million workers covered by company health insurance. Wal-Mart says its workers can get company health insurance for as little as $15.25 every other week for the employee, or $66.25 biweekly for family coverage. But such plans come with a $1,000 deductible. That means a Wal-Mart worker would have to pay nearly $1,400 out of their own pocket before getting one penny of benefits. Employees can get a lower deductible of $350 for $33.25 biweekly for a single employee and $115.25 for a family. That family would have to pay out $3,358 before getting any company help."Full time" workers at Wal-Mart can wait up to six months to get care, and part-time must wait two years to become eligible. The turn-over rate at Wal-Mart is 50% a year, so the chance of a part-timer ever getting health care is almost zero.

What you can do: For earlier stories about health insurance welfare and other taxpayers' subsidies, search Newsflash by "welfare" or "health insurance."










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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