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    Wal-Mart Sets New Healthcare, Training Programs

    The mega-retailer said it is making good on pledges to extend associate-friendly benefits and programs.

    Earlier this year, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. announced that 92.7 percent of associates had health care coverage, including 50.2 percent of associates who had coverage through Wal-Mart's plan.

    Now on Tuesday, Wal-Mart said it would continue its push to make healthcare more accessible and affordable for its associates by introducing new programs designed to keep families healthy. A new feature of the 2009 plan is "Life with Baby", designed to give associates and their spouses education to promote healthier pregnancies and infants.

    "We have worked hard to provide high-quality, affordable healthcare to our associates and I think this additional focus on wellness steps us up to a new level," said Eduardo Castro-Wright, Walmart U.S. president & c.e.o. "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."

    Wal-Mart associates who enroll in the company's "Value" or "Freedom" plans will have access to additional preventative care coverage, including mammograms, colonoscopies, flu vaccinations and well-child office visits, before meeting the annual deductible. Associates can also use a free 24-hour registered nurse line through the Mayo Clinic for health information. These enhancements are in addition to other recent changes the company made to its overall benefits program including its dental, Profit Sharing and 401 (k) plans.

    In other news, the giant retailer also disclosed a new training enhancement program for its more than 1,300 trucking technicians. The training will digitally assess the fleet's technicians before offering bilingual training programs to enhance skills, either as instructor-led or online training. Online post-assessment to track learning is part of the program, which rolls out beginning in fall 2008.

    Delmar, a part of Cengage Learning and provider of learning solutions for ongoing career development, developed the custom program.

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