BOSTON — Seeking to counter criticism that Wal-Mart’s health benefits are unaffordable for most rank-and-file workers, chief executive officer H. Lee Scott on Monday revealed details of a new, low-cost insurance plan during a television broadcast to stores.
Premiums can be as low as $11 per month starting next year, but that option will be offered only in certain southeastern metropolitan markets, said Wal-Mart spokesman Dan Fogelman. For the majority of subscribers, health insurance will cost about $25 per month for an individual, $37 per month for a single parent and $65 per month for a family. Employees can visit a doctor three times for preventative care before a $1,000 annual deductible kicks in.
Also starting in 2006, Wal-Mart will permit workers to set aside pre-tax dollars to cover medical expenses in healthcare spending accounts. The company will match as much as $1,000 in that spending account, depending on an individual’s coverage level.
The world’s biggest retailer employs 1.2 million people in the U.S. and 568,000 of them, or about 47 percent, have health insurance, the company said.
In its attempt to increase the ranks of insured, Wal-Mart is bucking a national trend among corporations looking to curtail spiraling health care costs.
Ulysses Yannas, a broker with Buckman, Buckman & Reid, speculated that Wal-Mart will pay for its low-cost health plan with improved profits on apparel sales and savings from its RFID (radio frequency identification) inventory management systems. He estimated the retailer could generate $8 billion next year from both initiatives, “part of which they will be using to improve health care and wages, and keep the unions out of their doors.”
Paul Blank, director of WakeUp Wal-Mart, a union-sponsored campaign that has steadily attacked the retailer’s wages and benefits, said the new plan is an “empty promise.”
The group calculated that, figuring in the $1,000 deductible, the monthly premium and separate deductibles for hospital care, prescription drugs and surgery, the plan could theoretically consume as much as 25 percent of an employee’s take-home pay for individual coverage, and as much as 40 percent for family coverage. Wal-Mart’s average entry-level wage is $9.68 per hour, according to the company.Fogelman said those additional deductibles, at $300 to $1,000 apiece, are “part of the trade-off for lower premiums.” He said the new program, called the Value Plan, is “an attractive option for someone who visits a doctor once or twice a year for a sinus infection.”
Fogelman said he could not speculate how many workers would select the plan. He also said he did not know if the new plan option would affect Wal-Mart’s total health care costs. The retailer pays two-thirds of its associates’ health care expenses, he said.
“What he has done at Vuitton is really exceptional,” said @gameofthrones’ actress Gwendoline Christie on @mrkimjones’ final show for @louisvuitton. “He has rebooted luxury in terms of making it commercial, viable and contemporary. And most importantly artistic. He has never compromised his artistic vision for the sake of commodity.” (📷: @zefashioninsider)
After seeing a demand for men’s wear from its customers, British contemporary women’s wear label @ariesarise has added a men’s wear component and will launch a unisex collection with @mrporterlive. The 20-piece collection includes jackets, denim, logo T-shirts and more with deconstructed ‘90s vibes. Set to launch on January 18, you can shop the pieces on Aries’ website and on mrporter.com. #wwdfashion
“And so spending so much time with a character who thinks like that, inevitability you try and analyze yourself and go back and think about your own demons and dark chapters that you had in your life,” says @thedanielbruhl of his role in TNT’s “The Alienist.” The show, set in the Gilded Age of New York, also stars Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans. Head to WWD.com to read about how 39-year-old Brühl prepared for the role and why he thinks the show is so relevant to today #wwdeye ( 📷: @Eriktanner)
Now that Celine Dion’s collection has topped $10 million in sales, the pop superstar, fashion icon and newly-minted industry player is eyeing growth in Asia. Read the full report by @tiffanyap, link in bio. #wwdnews #celinedion
“My personal philosophy to beauty is paying attention to oneself. I love to be outdoors, lots of fresh air, trying to take care of yourself as best you can. I always notice that comes through,” says Felicity Jones, the global face of @shiseido-owned @cledepeaubeauteus, which launches today. Head to WWD.com to read more about the actress’ love for beauty and how she prepared for her new role in “The Basis of Sex,” playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #wwdbeauty (📷: @dandoperalski)
Among the familiar faces at @off____white’s show was a surprise figure: Japanese artist @takashipom, pictured here on Wednesday morning. Other show-goers included @jerrylorenzo, who spoke about his upcoming project: a @nike collaboration for back to school, with designs inspired by his childhood on the West Coast. Sitting in the front row were Future, Don Crawley, @miguel and more. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: Stephane Feugere)
According to @laurentsai, former “Terrace House: Aloha State” cast member, she didn’t know she was auditioning for the Japanese version of “Real World.” “I was telling a couple of my friends and someone’s like, ‘That sounds a lot like Terrace House.’ I was like, ’No it can’t be.’” Turns out, it was. But Tsai isn’t just a reality star — she’s an illustrator who has worked with Starbucks Japan and most recently, she’s dipping her toes into the fashion world. Head to WWD.com to read about her time on the show, modeling and her art. #wwdeye (📷: @danieldorsa)
More changes are coming to New York Fashion Week: Beginning with the spring 2019 collection, @alexanderwangny will move his New York show to June from September, adopting a biannual schedule with collections shown in June and December. Additionally, the @cfda is planning for an official summer/winter fashion season taking place as soon as June and December 2018. Read more about the upcoming changes on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @slovekinpics)