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Bloomberg reports that Starbucks, looking to synch itself up with traditional values in China, where it is looking to expand its footprint, has decided to "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 plan represents a multimillion dollar commitment by Starbucks.

The story goes on: "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."

Executive Chairman Howard Schultz tells Bloomberg, "This is the first time we’ve done anything like this, and the reason for that is that it was clear there was an emotionally driven concern among partners about their ability to take care of their parents. I heard firsthand very emotionally driven, tragic stories about what’s taking place with the parents who got sick, and many passed away ... Once we sit down and listen to those stories, we could not be a bystander."
KC's View:
Hard to imagine that this kind of benefit would be extended to the US, but it does get me thinking. As important as it is to many of us that parental insurance policies be able to cover our kids through age 26, it'd be amazing if there were a way to extend it to our parents. It probably is unworkable, since elderly parents tend to have higher healthcare costs. But there is part of me that thinks that the Chinese have it right, at least in terms of how they venerate their elders.