“This year, the expenses were significant and led us to make some tough decisions as we begin our annual enrollment,” said Sally Welborn, the company’s senior vice president of global benefits, in a post.
At the same time, however, Wal-Mart also said that it now plans to offer consumers one-stop shopping in multiple channels for health-care insurance. Wal-Mart is working with DirectHealth.com, an online health-insurance comparison site and agency, to allow shoppers to compare coverage options and enroll in Medicare plans or the public exchange plans created under Obamacare.
Availability of this service in the stores, online and by phone is supposed to help Walmart compete more effectively with drugstore chains that are rapidly adding health-care services. Walmart already operates health-care clinics in dozens of its stores.
On another front where his company is expanding the traditional definition of a mass merchandiser, McMillon has authorized the rollout of a new checking product called GoBank, which provides a smartphone-friendly account with California’s Green Dot Bank after a consumer buys a $2.95 “starter kit” at a Wal-Mart. It’s aimed largely at the “unbanked” lower-income consumer that is Wal-Mart’s staple clientele.