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Walmart expands doula coverage to Louisiana, Indiana and Illinois


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Dive Brief:

  • Walmart will expand its doula services benefit, which covers up to $1,000 in doula services during pregnancy, to associates in Louisiana, Indiana and Illinois, the company announced Wednesday. Walmart launched the program last June for Georgia workers.
  • In choosing where to expand, Walmart selected three states where it sees “potential to have an instant impact.” It cited the mortality rate in Louisiana, which is “four times higher for Black mothers than it is white mothers,” the lack of OBGYN services in Indiana and the number of postpartum deaths in Illinois.  
  • The doula benefit is part of Walmart’s “Life with Baby” program, which provides pregnant employees with resources like one-on-one coaching from a nurse, progress-tracking tools and more. 

Dive Insight:

Walmart’s doula benefit fills a gap in employees’ existing medical plan, the company says — putting Walmart in the company of many other employers that are seeking to provide specialized benefits tailored to the needs of employees.

Empowered to improve the worker experience and address the labor shortage, HR leaders are increasingly experimenting with new and innovative benefits. Learning platform Articulate recently provided a one-time, $4,500 bonus to employees to help offset financial stress due to inflation. Noodles & Co. introduced immigration reimbursement to help employees cope with associated fees. HR tech vendor Phenom gave employees $1,000 to use for their mental health. 

Women’s health and parental benefits have seen greater attention as well. Companies partnering with apps like Carrot and Ovia Health can provide employees with fertility and pregnancy care benefits like access to health professionals and subsidized treatments like egg freezing and in vitro fertilization — expensive procedures that medical insurance often doesn’t cover. Recently, such companies have been increasing their healthcare support for older workers as well, adding offerings for menopause, low testosterone and other conditions.

For employers hoping to make a difference through benefits, there is evidence doula services may offer significant bang for the buck. Few medical insurance companies cover doula services, but studies have shown their presence can decrease the need for a cesarean section and reduce the length of labor, among other benefits. 

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