This paper analyses the impact of the uninsured or underinsured population in America. By evaluating the situation existing in an organization named Walmart, the paper attempts to present the historical effects of the condition of this organization, its community position, and the difficulties faced by the organization.
This paper presents the impact of the uninsured population in the United States with special reference to the organization called Walmart. The terms uninsured or underinsured denote the people who do not have adequate health coverage, and they have to pay more than those who have insurance coverage for medical checkups. This leads to several miseries in their life. The main problem is that these people won’t treat their disease in the initial stages because the money they need to spend becomes a major concern when the disease gets worsened, they will take the treatment, thus forcing them to spend huge amounts that they may not be able to afford. “Walmart’s open enrollment survey, with 802,091 participants, indicated that as of November 9, 2007, 92.7 percent of associates has health care coverage, including the 50.2 percent of associates who have coverage through Walmart’s plan. Associates surveyed cited the following sources for their health care coverage:
- 50.2 percent — Walmart plan;
- 22.3 percent — Spouse;
- 7.3 percent — Uninsured;
- 4.3 percent — Medicare;
- 4.2 percent — Parents, school or college;
- 3.2 percent — Other/previous employer;
- 2.4 percent — Individual policy;
- 2.3 percent — VA or military;
- 1.9 percent — Medicaid;
- 1.2 percent — State program other than Medicaid; and
- 0.7 percent — Another source than those listed above.
- Total: 100 percent.” (2008 open enrollment data shows that 92.7 percent of Walmart associates now have, 2008, para.8).
Many of the associates did not take part in this just because they thought that they would lose money or they need to pay a large sum for obtaining a health insurance policy. This is just because of the lack of knowledge and they did not know much about the insurance plans. To create awareness in these people and to put them under health insurance “President Obama said that, “If you’ve got health care already, and probably the majority of you do, then you can keep your plan if you are satisfied with it.” (Turner, 2009, para.5).
The main thing to be understood from this is that health insurance will not rob anybody and instead this will help them escape from the burden of hefty medical bills. Walmart will be affected because of uninsured people in many ways. The first thing is if anything happens to anybody and when it causes a medical expense, then the organization has to bear the entire amount. This might be huge and will affect the organization’s fund. So to avoid such problems what the organization needs is every individual in that organization must come under health insurance, by tying up with some insurance companies. This way, all expenses will be handled by the insurance company.
The mission of Walmart is to bring everyone under the health insurance plan. Whether the employee is a part-time or full-time worker, they intend to bring all under one shelter by giving health insurance. So to achieve this, Walmart has arranged many choices and plans for their employees to choose from. The organization is ready to provide health insurance not only to the employees but also to their siblings. Recently the organization has introduced new programs such as “life with baby,” the aim of which is to cover the mother and child right after delivery. Besides, Walmart has introduced personalized health records (PHRs) to keep track of the medical records of their employees.
“Since we began offering PHRs just a few months ago, more than 50,000 of our associates have signed up, which we believe demonstrates that consumers are ready and willing to use technology to take control of their own health and wellness,” said Linda Dillman, executive vice president of benefits for Walmart Stores, Inc.” (Wal- Mart health care benefits enrollment rises, uninsured rate declines, 2009, para.5). To make these things happen create awareness in the employees about these health insurance plans, the organization has used media and internet facilities.
The historical effects
In September 2002, a survey conducted by the state of Georgia found that Walmart has provided insurance for the siblings of their employees and that one in four siblings of the employee is considered for this purpose.
In October 2005, Walmart has provided insurance coverage to forty-four percent of its workers. To achieve this Walmart has to spend nearly $3500 for each employee for covering the health insurance cost.
On January 12, 2006, the Maryland legislature put out an order saying that any company which has got more than 10,000 workers should spend at least eight percent of their payrolls on employee benefits. Walmart was the only one to satisfy these criteria before passing the order.
On April 17, 2006, Walmart extended the health insurance coverage to their part-time workers also, though with certain conditions like the worker should have at least one year experience with the company.
By January 2007, the number of people in the company’s health insurance coverage has been increased by eight percent which made Walmart reduce the amount paid by workers for a health insurance policy.
The statistics are shown below:
“90.4 percent of Walmart associates reported having some sort of health coverage. More than 1 million associates and family members are covered by Walmart health plans. 76.3 percent of Walmart associates were eligible for coverage. 53.2 percent of associates who signed up for insurance, didn’t have insurance before Walmart. 9.6 percent remain uninsured.” (Dillman, 2007, p.4).
Development of community health Support service
The development of Community health support will provide significant help to solve the problems related to the uninsured and underinsured population in the United States to a certain extent. Community health support can provide its service to various sectors of society. It can focus on children, ladies, families, adolescents, employees, etc. This service can distribute to the public by community stakeholders, people who dedicate their lives to social services, health workers, etc.
Several methods can be deployed for the development of community health services. The main among these are:
- To encourage access to primary care homes,
- Give training especially about the health topic to the community based on their needs,
- Construct a channel that connects health professionals
- Make sure to obtain maximum support from the local government.
In the instant case, Walmart can apply these methods to develop a health support service within their organization. They can provide medical education to their employees about the importance of health care. Besides, Walmart is also giving a significant contribution to the hunger relief effort as well as to some particular servicing areas mainly by way of donations and volunteerism. Their major servicing areas are the education sector, creating workforce or financial openings, environmental sustainability, and health services. (The Walmart foundation, (n.d.)). They offer their services mainly for some particular groups in the society like people who are suffering from some disabilities or people who are in need of special care from society. Their major services in this category include feeding hungry children, food bank support and food donation. (CSR press release, 2009).
As part of health care services Walmart also distribute their products and extend the treatment with the lowest price. They give priority to ensuring health care coverage to their employees. Some of their recent attempts in health care service are:
- In-Store Medical Clinics, which function like moving medical clinics.
- Better Health Care Together aims to at generating more. conscientiousness and control over individuals health,
- Walmart’s health and wellness programs aim to take care of the health and wellness of Walmart’s associates and their family members.
- Prescription drug program, at the initial period itself and through this program, their customers can save millions of dollars.
Besides these, they extend their health care services at International levels also. (Fact sheet, (n.d.)).
Communication with key stakeholders in the community and government
Communication with the stakeholders involves a lot of expenses to Walmart. Employees, shareholders, creditors, debtors, management and government are their key stakeholders. A company always needs to communicate with all of these groups for different purposes and for this purpose they have to incur expenses. Communication is an essential part of the progressive growth of all business organizations. The companies adopt both traditional methods and the latest technology for this purpose. According to Tom Duncan and Sandra E. Moriarty “new generation marketing is best explained, understood, and accomplished with a communication-based model of relationship marketing.” (Duncan, & Moriarty,2009, para.3).
If the employees of Walmart are insured, the insurance companies also derive some benefit from this. It can also be considered as a financial effect by the communication with the stakeholders.
For any type of communication, whether it is traditional or modern, it entails expenditure. For the welfare of laborers like healthcare, their wages, salaries, launching of a new product, training of the employees, etc also a different kind of communication with the stakeholders. In almost all cases money spent for these purposes will fetch positive results for the company.
Walmart uses modern tools like GIS (Geographical Information System) for communication with stakeholders. It requires huge money to be spent on such systems.
The financial effect of uninsured and underinsured people in Walmart
According to the words of Mr. Susan Chambers, who is the executive vice president of Walmart, “46 percent of the children of Walmart’s 1.33 million United States employees were uninsured or on Medicaid.” (Greenhouse, & Barbaro, (2005, October 26), p.1). They start health clinics in stores which helps employees to reduce their emergency room visits. In this way, Walmart gets $4.2 billion benefits in 2006 itself. It helps them to increase their share of sales and they earned $10.5 billion. They introduce another health insurance plan for uninsured employees. By this plan, Employees pay $11 a month. (Greenhouse, & Barbaro, (2005, October 26)).
Besides, they also introduced many other insurance schemes for their uninsured employees. But according to the report on the State of Georgia’s program, Walmart employees’ uninsured children are overburdened than others. Through this program, they provide insurance coverage for many Walmart employees’ children. (Walmart: A destructive force for Chicago communities and companies, 2004). It indicates that their insurance coverage level is very low compared to other companies.
Effects of increase in the number of uninsured people
In the article named ‘Uninsured in America: problems and possible solutions’, Karen Davis mentions the growing rate of uninsured people in America and states that “The number of uninsured people has increased from 40 million in 2000 to nearly 47 million in 2005.” (Davis, 2007). The growing rate of uninsured people in the organization may have its own toll as far as Walmart is concerned. Being an organization that was once criticized for having a large number of uninsured and underinsured employees, such an increase would prove detrimental to the reputation of the company. It also poses some risks in the form of a financial burden to the organization.
In a 2005 memo of Walmart suggests ways to reduce costs for its employees and it was mentioned that the benefit-cost has shorted up to $4.2 billion in the previous year as compared to $2.8 billion three years earlier. If the rate of uninsured people increases over the years the company has to allocate more funds to cover the health insurance needs of these people, which will become a concern for them. In a recession-driven world, even a small increase of 2-3% of uninsured people may cause a financial burden on the company. But it is obvious that the additional income needed to cover this population is not a heavy burden for an organization like Walmart, whose income exceeds even that of many countries.
Looking at the situation from the perspective of the employees, it can be deduced that the present insurance coverage they receive from this organization is not timely and adequate to cater to their health needs. The web article entitled, ‘More of the Same: Walmart’s 2009 Health Care Fails To Deliver for Associates’ criticizes the insurance plan offered by Walmart which finds that the employee turnover of the organization is as high as 70% and the workers have to wait for longer duration to receive the benefits. Also, it is found that the insurance plan offered by this organization is often unaffordable to the employees and it comes around half of their annual income. (More of the same: Walmart’s 2009 health care fails to deliver for associates, 2009).
Major solutions to the risks caused by the increase of uninsured people
One of the most appropriate solutions that can address the risks posed by the increase of uninsured or underinsured population is adopting a comprehensive insurance plan by the organization that covers not only the employees of the upper level but that also includes the health care needs of the whole range of workers. The organization should be able to provide benefits to all needy employees. Walmart is a prosperous corporate enterprise and has the capacity to respond humanly to the dilemma of uninsured employees.
Only the management needs to change this approach to meet the situation. Also, the usual practice of avoiding weak sections of society in the insurance coverage should be prevented. They are the people who need protection through insurance and the organization can extend the coverage to part-time employees also. Thus the situation prevailing in named Walmart, where a good number of employees remain uninsured or underinsured, can be effectively changed if creative measures are taken with a vision to change the woes of the people.
CSR press release: Walmart foundation expands hunger relief efforts, donates more than $7.8 million to support summer feeding programs and U.S food banks. (2009). CSR Wire: The Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire. Web.
Davis, K. (2007). Analysis: Uninsured in America: Problems and possible solutions: Trends in Uninsured and underinsured. BMJ: Helping Doctors Make Better Decisions, 334, 346-348, Web.
Dillman, L. (2007). The national congress of US and underinsured: Walmart’s perspective on Health Reform: Where do Walmart associates obtain coverage? Wal Mart. Web.
Duncan, T., & Moriarty, S E. (2009). A communication-based marketing model for managing relationships. JSTOR: Trusted Achieves for Scholarship. Web.
Fact sheets. (n.d.). Walmart. Web.
Greenhouse, S., & Barbaro, M. (2005). Walmart memo suggests ways to cut employee benefit costs. The New York Times. Web.
More of the same: Walmart’s 2009 health care fails to deliver for associates. (2009). Web.
The Walmart foundation: Crating opportunities so people can live better. (n.d.). Walmart. Web.
Turner, G M. (2009). The uninsured addressing underinsurance in national health reform: Executive summary. Galen Institute. Web.
Wal- Mart health care benefits enrollment rises, uninsured rate declines: Total Associates health coverage health increases to more than 94 percent. (2009). CSR Wire: The Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire. Web.
Walmart: A destructive force for Chicago communities and companies: Special report to the new Chicago school of community economic development. (2004). CLCR: Smart Partnerships. Proven Results. Web.
2008 open enrollment data shows that 92.7 percent of Walmart associates now have. (2008). Reuters. Web.