Wal-Mart recently announced that the company will provide health insurance for their employees’ domestic partners including LGBT partners as part of an updated benefits package that also includes vision insurance, coverage for some surgeries, and incentives to quit smoking. Walmart is the nation’s largest private employer with a staff of 1.3 million people, more than half of whom rely on Wal-Mart’s health care plans.
The benefits will apply to unmarried partners living together in an ongoing committed relationship, who have been together for at least 12 months, and who plan to continue living together indefinitely. Whether they are a same sex or opposite sex couple does not matter. The benefits will take effect in all 50 states, regardless of each state’s definitions of marriage, domestic partnership, or civil union.
The benefits update is a “business decision” for the sake of keeping up with competitors and ensuring consistency across markets, according to Wal-Mart spokesman Randy Hargrove.