That Eeeeeeeeeeevul Walmart

Tuesday 7 January 2014 - Filed under Government + health care + Obamacare

How dare Walmart offer more comprehensive insurance plans at a lower price than Obamacare! Richard Pollock at the Washington Examiner:

New Obamacare health insurance enrollees may feel a pang of envy when they eye the coverage plans offered by Walmart to its employees.

For many years, the giant discount retailer has been the target of unions and liberal activists who have harshly criticized the company’s health care plans, calling them “notorious for failing to provide health benefits” and “substandard.”

But a Washington Examiner comparison of the two health insurance programs found that Walmart’s plan is more affordable and provides significantly better access to high-quality medical care than Obamacare.

Independent insurance agents affiliated with the National Association of Health Underwriters and health policy experts compared the two at the request of the Examiner.

It’s unpossible that one of those heartless corporations, the worst of all some might say, offers better insurance for cheaper than El Jefe does through Obamacare. How much cheaper?

For a monthly premium as low as roughly $40, an individual who is a Walmart HRA plan enrollee can obtain full-service coverage through a Blue Cross Blue Shield preferred provider organization. A family can get coverage for about $160 per month.

Unlike Obamacare, there are no income eligibility requirements. Age and gender do not alter premium rates. The company plan is the same for all of Walmart’s 1.1 million enrolled employees and their dependents, from its cashiers to its CEO.

A Journal of the American Medical Association analysis from September showed that unsubsidized Obamacare enrollees will face monthly premiums that are five to nine times higher than Walmart premiums.

JAMA found the unsubsidized premium for a nonsmoking couple age 60 can cost $1,365 per month versus the Walmart cost of about $134 for the same couple.

The medical journal reported a 30-year-old smoker would pay up to $428 per month, in contrast to roughly $70 each month for a Walmart employee.

A family of four could pay a $962 premium, but the same Walmart family member would pay about $160.

But those must be one of those substandard plans that offer bare bones coverage. What says the analysis?

Low premiums are not the only distinguishing feature of the Walmart plan. The retailer’s employees can use eight of the country’s most prestigious medical facilities, including the Mayo Clinic, Pennsylvania’s Geisinger Medical Center and the Cleveland Clinic.

At these institutions, which Walmart calls “Centers of Excellence,” Walmart employees and their dependents can get free heart or spinal surgery. They can also get free knee and hip replacements at four hospitals nationwide.

Many top-rated Walmart hospitals — such as the Mayo and Cleveland clinics — are left out of most Obamacare exchange plans.

Well, okay, so Walmart employees can get care from some of the most prestigious medical institutions on the planet, many of them for free. That’s probably just a fringe benefit that Walmart’s evil corporate masters have worked out with those high end institutions funded by the rich. What about everyday care at local hospitals and local doctors?

But the real difference between Obamacare and Walmart can be seen in the levels of day-to-day access to doctors and hospitals.

Robert Slayton, a practicing Chicago independent insurance agent for 11 years and the former president of the Illinois State Association of Health Underwriters, described to the Examiner the differences between Walmart and Obamacare provider networks.

Slayton said the BlueChoice exchange network for President Obama’s hometown has very limited hospital participation. “In downtown Chicago, the key is the number of hospitals: 28,” he said.

“Now we’re going to the national network — this is what the Walmart network would most likely be — and you have 54 hospitals. That’s a big difference,” he said.

[. . .]

Slayton said the gap between doctor availability in Chicago under the Obamacare and Walmart plans is dramatic.

“You will notice there are 9,837 doctors [under Obamacare]. But the larger network is 24,904 doctors. Huge, huge difference,” he said.

Academic hospitals have also largely opted out of accepting Obamacare plans, taking the doctors that practice at some of these hospitals with them.

In Arkansas, Walmart’s home state, the difference between Obamacare plans and the Walmart plan is even more dramatic. Premiums for Walmart employees are much lower than Obamacare plans, and so are the deductibles. Even a reasonably young person who is fully subsidized under an Obamacare plan would have to pay a substantially higher deductible (which would amount to more than the premium and the deductible paid under the Walmart plan) in the event he actually needed to use his insurance.

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2014-01-07  »  madlibertarianguy

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