A Walmart is shown in Modesto, Calif. The company announced it will expand coverage of doulas for employees and will lower insulin costs for customers. File Photo by TaurusEmerald/Wikimedia Commons
June 22 (UPI) -- Walmart announced Wednesday plans to expand its coverage of doulas during pregnancy to employees in four states and lower insulin costs for customers living in rural areas.
Walmart said its benefits will cover up to $1,000 for doula services and trained professionals who offer support through the pregnancy process and delivery of children. The use of doulas is popular among Black families, who experience a higher rate of birthing challenges.
Walmart started the benefit for Georgia employees and said it will now expand it to Louisiana, Indiana and Illinois.
"I am so passionate about my son's birth story and my doula, Imani from Rebyrth Wellness, made all the difference," Khadija Franklin, Walmart associate from Marietta, Ga., said in a statement. "The doula benefit was an incredible bonus last year! Imani helped me prepare physically and mentally for a moment that I will remember forever.
"Having a doula should not be a luxury, it is a necessity for every woman to have an advocate to allow her to have the smoothest birth experience possible."
In a separate announcement, the retail giant said it is working directly with insulin manufacturer Novo Nordisk to sell insulin products under its own private ReliOn label that will allow customers to save up to 75% off the cash price of branded analog insulin.
"We know that people living in rural America are 17% more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than those in urban areas," said Cheryl Pegus, executive vice president of Walmart Health and Wellness, in a statement.
"For many with diabetes, their health depends on having reliable access to insulin to help control blood sugar levels and prevent complications that diabetes causes. The average cash price for insulins in the United States in late 2021 had risen more than 40% compared to early 2014."