Wal-Mart not the right face for California’s health care reform

The health plan Covered California is attempting to partner with Wal-Mart franchise in order to help enroll Californians in a health care plan. This can come as a shock to some who do not see Wal-Mart as a company who should be representing the health care for the state.

Let’s think about this for a minute; since when has Wal-Mart been the “shining example” of what is right when it comes to health benefits? The company has had quite some trouble in the past for not treating their workers the best.

Covered California’s purpose is to make it simple and more affordable for millions of Californians to get high-quality health insurance.

This is contradicting to Wal-Mart whose focus seems to be to make it harder for their employees to qualify for their health insurance.

Covered California has a goal of 2.3 millions of all Californians having health insurance by the year 2017. It could be beneficial having Wal-Mart as a proxy that enrolls people into health plans, because of the huge amount of people that visit the store, yet it does not seem right because of the stigma surrounding some of its practices; its focus seemingly to make it harder for their employees to qualify for their health insurance.

The Los Angeles Times reported that many of the Wal-Mart employees do not qualify for health insurance themselves and thus have to turn to programs like Medi-Cal for coverage.

Additionally, Wal-Mart has recently raised the amount of hours worked to be eligible for health care from 24-30 hours. Wal-Mart said this occurred because they were trying to follow the federal healthcare law, but this is just another hoop that their employees need to jump over just to receive health care.

Labor unions have concerns that health care advice is coming from a hypocritical place.

According to the United Food and Commercial Workers union’s Western States Council, website, “‘Walmart jobs’ are now cultural shorthand for low-wage, dead-end positions with poor benefits and few opportunities for advancement.”

Because of Wal-Mart’s low wages to their employees they have the highest number of employees reliant on government assistance. Wal-Mart employees used around $2 billion annually from the people that received government help from programs like Medi-Cal and food stamps.

Covered California’s argument is that the program is not responsible for Wal-Mart’s financial decisions and that their responsibility is not to fix that problem.

Agreed, but partnering with Wal-Mart is essentially having the company represent Covered California.

Wal-Mart is standing by its innocence saying that they are more than generous when it comes to offering health insurance to their workers.

Still, it’s difficult to see Wal-Mart paying only 60 percent of all costs for employees that are eligible for health insurance as overly generous.

Wal-Mart’s bad reputation is not hidden, rather it comes forth from labor unions, community groups and organizations who have criticized Wal-Mart for its lack of care for their employees. Californians signing up for Covered California is an important task, but the outlet for doing this should be somewhere else other than Wal-Mart. There are other companies that reach many Californians that also take care of their employees.

California does not need a company many perceive as greedy representing a plan that is supposed to help people many times coming from low-income families to receive health insurance.

About Michelle Tuyub