According to a new report released February 1st by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health & Human Services, state taxpayers in the Commonwealth spent $7,223,580.77 to provide subsidized health care insurance for Wal-Mart workers — the highest cost any employer shifted to the state. The study, “The Use of Public Health Assistance in Massachusetts in FY 2006: Employers Who Have Fifty or More Employees Using MassHealth or the Uncompensated Care Pool,” is the third such analysis of employers who have 50 more workers using public health assistance. A state law passed in 2004 requires the state to produce such studies. The report released this month covers the period July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2006. The analysis estimates that in FY 2006, a total of $234.2 million in public funds were spent on health care for employees and their dependents working for employers who had 50 or more employees subsidized by two major state health care programs: Medicaid and the Uncompensated Care Pool. The state reports estimates that a total of 6,070 Wal-Mart employees and dependents are costing state taxpayers $7.223 million a year. Of that total, 1,038 Wal-Mart employees used the Uncompensated Care Pool, 2,079 Wal-Mart employees were on Medicaid, and 2,953 dependents of Wal-Mart employees, mostly children, used benefits paid for by Medicaid. The cost of Wal-Mart dependents alone came to $4,328,155. According to Wal-Mart, the retailer has 10,785 employees today in Massachusetts. Using the FY 2006 figure of 3,117 Wal-Mart workers on Medicaid and UCP, that means at least 29% of Wal-Mart’s workforce in the Baystate is getting their health care subsidized by the public. Other national chain stores are high on the list. Home Depot ranks number 9 on the list, with 2,130 employees and dependents on state-subsidized health care, costing taxpayers $2,567,929. Target ranks 11th with 1,982 employees and dependents being subsidized, at a cost of $2,348,794 a year. Other national retailers on the list include Walgreen’s, Sears, Macy’s, Kmart, Brooks, Kohl’s, Albertsons, Whole Foods Market, BJ’s Wholesale Club, JC Penney, Lowe’s, Best Buy, Toys R Us, Filene’s, Lord & Taylor, Old Navy, Victoria’s Secret, and Circuit City. But Wal-Mart holds the distinction of being the #1 highest cost to the state for subsidized health care for its workers and their dependents, and the highest number of workers and dependents using state health care programs.
The total cost of employers in Massachusetts with 50 or more workers on public health assistance rose by 10% over the figure of $216.6 million in FY 2005. These companies cost state taxpayers an additional $17.6 million in subsidized health care. Wal-Mart has been at the top of the list for all three years the survey has been conducted. Of the top ten employers on the FY 2005 list, eight remained in the top ten in FY 2006. The survey notes that 97% of all firms with more than 50 employees offer health insurance, “however, since a greater number of people are employed by large firms and it is likely that many of these workers are part-time and earn lower wages, a large proportion (40.2%) of the uninsured work for firms with more than 50 or more employees.” For a copy of the new health subsidy report, send your email to: [email protected]