Monday, July 6, 2009

Of course Wal-Mart wants mandatory health insurance with cost controls - here's why

Back on June 25 I wrote a post detailing Wal-Mart's efforts in the health clinic area. After I wrote that post, Wal-Mart made the health-related news again. The New York Times reported:

Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private employer, joined hands with a major labor endorse the idea of requiring large companies to provide health insurance to their workers, a move that gives a boost to President Obama as he is pushing for health legislation on Capitol Hill.

But there was a condition to Wal-Mart's endorsement:

“We’re for an employer mandate, but we believe that it has to be accompanied by these measures that are really going to deliver on the savings,” said Leslie A. Dach, Wal-Mart’s top lobbyist, who met with Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the proposal. “If any business is going to be asked to take on an employer mandate, to face changes in the tax laws, there should be some sense that the promise of the bill to reduce health costs will actually occur.”

Now while reaction to Wal-Mart's statement, including that of Outside the Beltway, concentrates on Wal-Mart the employer, you can only really understand Wal-Mart's stance when you remember that they are a low-cost health care provider.

I've already talked about the low-cost clinics, and we all know that Wal-Mart provides low-cost prescriptions.

So think about it - mandatory employer-sponsored health care, coupled with cost restrictions, could be a huge windfall for Wal-Mart.
Let's face it, health care is a growing industry, whether you're in a boom or a bust cycle. (Or at least it will be a growing industry until the baby boomers all die.) I'd love to see what Wal-Mart's health-related business plans are BEYOND prescription drugs and clinics. Sam's Hospital, perhaps?
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