Wal-Mart Health Insurance Not That Bad

Let me preface this post by saying that I am usually not too impressed with Wal-Mart. I think that their lowest-price-at-any-cost strategy is not the best long-range plan in terms of caring for our Earth and its inhabitants. The Wal-Mart news of the day is about their new super-low priced generic drug program. The news article points out that Wal-Mart’s health insurance plan has come under fire because it has a $1,000 deductible for individuals and $3,000 deductible for families. And people think this is bad? Are you kidding me? Obviously people have lost sight of the fact that insurance is an aleatory contract. It was never designed to cover every sniffle, sneeze, and hangnail. People need to take some responsibility for their own basic health, and realize that if they know they’ll go to the doctor 3 or 4 times a year, that’s not something that insurance was ever supposed to cover – BECAUSE THEY KNOW THEY’RE GOING TO BE NEEDING IT. Insurance is supposed to cover the things that we don’t expect. Things like cancer, car accidents, heart attacks, appendicitis… Small medical expenses (under $1000 is a good example of small when it comes to medical bills) are something that we expect to have, so we should expect to pay for them. Wal-Mart’s main health insurance flaw – in my opinion – is how few of their employees qualify for benefits.

Wal-Mart encourages its employees to apply for welfare and Medicaid rather than provide adequate and affordable coverage. CEO Lee Scott said “In some of our states, the public program may actually be a better value.” The vast majority of workers qualify for public assistance, which costs the state of California over $75 million a year – just for Wal-Mart employees who do not receive adequate benefits.

I think that making benefits available to more of their workforce should be a priority, but a $1,000 deductible is not bad coverage for those that qualify, and no one should be complaining about that aspect of Wal-Mart’s policy. People with Wal-Mart’s insurance will be taken care of in the event that they have a serious illness or injury, which is really what health insurance is all about.

Technorati tag:

About Louise Norris

Louise Norris has been writing about health insurance and healthcare reform since 2006. In addition to the Colorado Health Insurance Insider, she also writes for healthinsurance.org, medicareresources.org, Verywell, Spark by ADP, and Boost by ADP, and Gusto. Follow on twitter and facebook.


  1. Well maybe people like you can afford every little doctors appointment. But some aren’t as lucky as you I guess. I really don’t see what the point of having insurance is if it never covers anything at all. That’s why Walmarts insurance sucks. Most people will never meet the deductable so like I said what’s the point in paying for something that won’t ever benefit you.

    I also like how you make people sound selfish because they need to go to the doctors. “Oh well you knew that you’d get the flu so you should expect to pay for it.” Seriously? What are you talking about?

  2. Angela,
    It is a common perception that “insurance” is a benefit for covering routine doctors visits. Think about it though… if you’re coming out ahead by having the insurance company “pay for” your doctors visits, they should be losing money. If they are losing money, how are they paying their employees? Whether you believe me or not, you are always going to be paying the insurance company more to turn around and pay for your routine doctors visits than you would be paying by just taking advantage of their negotiated rates with the provider.

    If you don’t believe me, that’s fine. But might I interest you in having me pay for all of your gas? It is a pretty sweet deal I’m offering… I’ll pay up to $200 worth of your gas per month. All you have to do is pay me $250/month. I can have your employer take the $250/month directly out of your paycheck. That way, you won’t notice that you’re paying something and all you’ll notice is the FREE GAS!

    Remember the definition of insurance.

  3. I think the writer is right that $1,000 is petty cash when it comes to what a serious illness can cost.

    If folks don’t have the cash to pay for smaller medical bills then they need to reserve adequate credit so they can be seen.

    People have to take some responsibility for themselves. One person can blow through $1,000 very quickly in the medical system. Being required to pay for less than that is not unreasonable.

  4. Annr:
    For our clients, I’m used to looking at insurance as a gamble – because that’s what it is. So the gamble is “how can I come out ahead” (pay less in than the insurance company pays out). The only way to do that is to cover yourself catastrophically. If you never have a catastrophic claim, you’ve wasted your money on insurance premiums… but that is a good thing.

    Angela (1st comment above) sees health insurance companies as a way to pay for “every little doctors appointment” (yes, having your paycheck deducted or not getting the extra salary equal to the cost of your employer to pay for your insurance is paying for it). The insurance companies know that most people go to regular doctors appointments.

    The insurance companies are for-profit. They are smarter than Vegas when figuring out how to make money. These doctors visits are regular and predictable, both you and the insurance company know they are going to happen. Does anybody really think the insurance company is going to take in less money to cover these than it costs to pay for them?

    No. But the problem is that people don’t think about insurance like that. It feels good to know that the insurance will be paying for it when you need to go to the doctor for a strep throat or a sinus infection. You feel like you’re getting something for that premium you pay the insurance company. It feels like such a waste to have to wait until you get cancer for the insurance benefits to kick in.

    I wonder how many people would actually pay $250/month extra for a health insurance policy that paid up to $200/month for your gas?

    There are actually enough people that purchase health insurance from MEGA Life and Health (Healthmarkets) that the company still hasn’t gone out of business and is able to pay an enormous amount of fines from the Division of Insurance. They break down their “coverage” so you just pay for the certain things you want “covered.” They had (and still might have) the option to cover up to 4 doctors visits per year with a $25 copay and they would pay a maximum of (I think) $25 per visit. And it would cost (something like) $125 annually to add the rider to your policy. The numbers may not be exact, but the rider always cost more than the actual benefit and it is funny how many people will still purchase the rider.

Speak Your Mind