- In effort to reduce the cost of health insurance coverage for both itself and workers, Walmart will pilot new programs for its 2020 medical plan, it announced last week.
- Having found success with centers of excellence, the employer said it will now roll out a "featured provider" program in northwest Arkansas, Orlando/Tampa and Dallas/Fort Worth. The program analyzes data from public and private insurance programs to create reports on physicians — taking "the guesswork out of finding an affordable, quality local provider in eight specialties," Walmart said.
- In North Carolina and South Carolina, the company said it will test a "personal healthcare assistant" that will help employees with billing, appointments and medical information. The program also can help workers coordinate transportation and child care for appointments.
Employers across the country are looking to mitigate the skyrocketing cost of health care benefits. As the tight talent market forces businesses to work harder to attract and retain talent, the pressure is on for many to offer coverage at affordable rates. Some are turning to alliances, while others look to creative solutions to control costs.
One third of employers in a recent poll said that when it comes to their health care priorities, "expanding benefit choices" tops the list. Like Walmart, some are offering expanded access to telehealth; others are testing on-site clinics.
And these offerings may do more than just attract and retain, too. For workers in lower-income jobs, lack of access to affordable coverage has been shown to increase absenteeism, often because employees delay or skip necessary medical treatment.