Monday, January 21, 2008

Ethical Retailing Memo: Wal-Mart Says it Has Major Health Care Announcement Tomorrow

Wal-Mart, Inc. says it has an important announcement to make regarding its corporate health care plans, and has called a conference call with members of the media for tomorrow, Tuesday, January 22, at 11:00 a.m. eastern time to make the announcement.

The mega-retailer has said only that the conference call announcement will reveal new information, with supporting statistical data, about Wal-Mart and employee health care. Linda Dillman, the company's executive vice president of benefits and risk, will lead the media conference call.

The announcement about the conference call was just sent out by Wal-Mart this afternoon. Generally, such an announcement, with such short notice, historically means a company has something important it wants to announce.

Since the conference call announcement states new information will be announced during the media event, we suspect it either has to do with new changes Wal-Mart mentioned it would be making to its health plans, or some new information regarding employee health coverage all together. However, we don't know anything more at this point in time.

Wal-Mart's health care policy is a major ethical topic of debate in all quarters in the U.S. Should the world's largest corporation and retailer announce some major, enhanced changes in health care coverage for employees, for example, such news could be significant not only for Wal-Mart, but to the current high-intensity health care debate going on in the U.S.

Presidential candidates of both parties are intently debating health care in the U.S. The top three Democratic party candidates--Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards--have each put out different but similar proposals for forms of what is being referred to as National Health Insurance.

On the Republican side, the issue is being debated as well. Things like tax credits and deductions and other incentives are being debated as ways to keep America's private health insurance system in place, but also to bring more of the 47 million Americans who are uninsured into the system.

We'll report tomorrow on what Wal-Mart's announcement is. And, if it is big, you'll be hearing about it everywhere, including on all the coverage of the U.S. Presidential party nomination campaigns.

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