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Wal-Mart announces enhanced health benefits for associates in '09


BENTONVILLE, Ark. Wal-Mart Stores announced plans to continue its push to make health care more accessible and affordable for its Wal-Mart Stores U.S. and Sam's Club associates by introducing new programs, such as a new "Life with Baby" initiative designed to give associates and their spouses personalized tools and education to help them ahve healthier pregnancies and infants.

"We have worked hard to provide high-quality, affordable health care to our associates and I think this additional focus on wellness steps us up to a new level," said Walmart U.S. president and ceo Eduardo Castro-Wright. "Over the past year, our associates have told us they wanted additional help in keeping themselves and their families healthy and we have responded with new plans designed to do just that."

The 'Life with Baby' program provides associates with immediate assistance from a registered nurse and materials tailored toward their individual needs throughout all phases of maternity. The plan also includes expanded benefits such as a new smoking cessation program.

"Wal-Mart's 'Life with Baby' program can be a real game changer because it provides employees with robust health and wellness offerings before, during and after pregnancy," said Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, senior vp for health affairs, dean of Meharry Medical College and a licensed obstetrician and gynecologist. "About 15,000 Wal-Mart associates have babies each year and, since every pregnancy is different, having a program that can be customized for each woman makes a big difference."

Earlier this year, Wal-Mart announced that 92.7% of associates have health care coverage, including 50.2% of associates who have coverage through Wal-Mart's plan.

The enhancements to the 2009 health care plan are in addition to other recent changes the company made to its overall benefits program including its dental and profit sharing and 401(k) plans.

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