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Walmart Offers Health Insurance to Shoppers

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Wal-Mart Inc. is on a roll this year when it comes to expanding its in-store products and services.

Last month, the retail goliath announced on its website that it would be helping low-income Americans with the new launch of GoBank checking account products. 

In addition to forthcoming banking services, Walmart is now offering health insurance through the collaboration of DirectHealth.com—an online insurance agency where people can compare medical coverage plans and enroll in Medicare or the plans provided by the Affordable Care Act.

On Friday October 10, “Healthcare Begins Here” became available to customers at 2,700 stores nationwide and through the store’s service hotline. 

The health care program is said to help those who are employed and don’t have coverage or access to maximum coverage. Most importantly, Walmart’s enrollment process will be valuable to those who have a hard time comprehending the specifics of the Affordable Care Act.

According to Labeed Diab, senior vice president and president of Walmart’s health and wellness division, applicants tend to have a difficult time completing the enrollment process.

He asserts “more than 60 percent of people have difficulty understanding their health insurance options and nearly 40 percent feel they picked the wrong plan after enrollment.”

Walmart has decided to in-house DirectHealth.com insurance agents to assist applicants in the enrollment process, which features over 1,000 plans from 12 different healthcare carriers.

The enrollment process for 65 and older Medicare applicants will end December 7. Any interested enrollers under the age of 65 are welcomed to apply between November 15 and February 15 of next year.  

While customers will benefit from the company’s health care initiatives, 5 percent of Walmart’s part-time workers are experiencing a whole different scenario. 

Nearly 30,000 employees who work 30 hours or less a week will no longer receive health insurance starting in January.  

Walmart recently announced that it would be ceasing health coverage due to the pricy healthcare costs provided by the Affordable Care Act.

Other retailers alike—Target and Home Depot—have responded in the same manner because of high expenses.

“This year, the expenses were significant and led us to make some tough decisions,” said Walmart’s senior vice president for global benefits, Sally Welborn, in a blog post.

Walmart expects to disburse a whopping $500 million on this year health care coverage. 

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This expense, along with other factors affecting revenue growth, have pressured the retail company to explore other profit gaining alternatives in the health care arena.  

Yet, Walmart will not profit from any of DirectHealth.com’s earnings. All commissions will be rewarded to the health care comparison website. 

Diab is just crossing his fingers in hopes that “Healthcare Begins Here” will bring in more customers and as a result improve the company’s sluggish traffic and sales.

The company will also further its flu shot practices through the expansion of primary health care clinics. 

Walmart plans to launch several advertising campaigns for the program later this month.

SOURCES
www.nytimes.com

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