More Wal-Mart Workers Opt for Company Health Plan

Wal-Mart Stores said on Thursday that the number of workers covered by one of the retailer's health plans climbed nearly 8%.

Of Wal-Mart's 1.3 million workers 47.4% are covered by its health plans. During a recent open-enrollment period, 636,391 workers enrolled in a company plan.

Another 43% have health care coverage through another source, such as spouses, Medicare, the military or another employer, Wal-Mart said.

About 90% of the company's workers have some kind of health insurance coverage, Wal-Mart said.

"Our associates are telling us these are the health plans they want and need," said Linda Dillman, Wal-Mart's executive vice president of risk management, benefits and sustainability, in a statement.

She attributed the rise to efforts the company has made to help workers understand the importance of coverage, including enrollment magazines, videos, conference calls and training sessions.

Wal-Mart has long faced criticism that it pays too little and offers inadequate health care in the United States, forcing some people onto public health-care assistance and into emergency rooms.

Wal-Mart said on Thursday that 76.3% of its workforce were eligible for health benefits in the most recent open-enrollment period.

That beats the average of 59% of workers in the retail sector who are eligible for benefits, Wal-Mart said, citing a 2006 Kaiser Family Foundation survey.