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Starbucks extends China Health Coverage to Workers' Parents
Published on: 2017-04-12
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060Starbucks Corp. will provide Chinese workers with health insurance that extends coverage to their parents, a unique offering by the coffeehouse chain that may be used by more than 10,000 people to treat conditions such as cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer's.

The new policy is a response to traditional values in China, the company said, as children often care for their parents and grandparents in a society that doesn't have a comprehensive safety net for the elderly. The plan, covering 30 critical illnesses and some surgeries, will be available starting in June, Executive Chairman Howard Schultz said.

The program addresses a critical need for an aging population that's contending with increasing rates of major diseases from cancer to heart ailments. It's also a strategic move to retain employees, many of them recent college graduates in low-skill jobs, and create goodwill toward the company at a time of increasing political tensions between the U.S and China.

Domestically, Starbucks has moved to improve employees' benefits. In 2015, the company said it would offer full tuition for workers to get an online degree from Arizona State University. It's also loosened its dress code, and offers one free pound of coffee a week -- all in an effort to appease and retain talent.

Parents must be younger than 75 and reside in mainland China to qualify, the company said. Starbucks will pay the full premiums for eligible workers -- those who've been employed by the company for at least two years. The company has about 40,000 employees in China.

The plan was devised after employee surveys found that 70 percent of workers were concerned about the health of their elderly parents, according to the company. Starbucks also noticed an increasing number of requests for financial assistance from employees to help cover parents' health costs.

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