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Wal-Mart cuts health coverage for part-timers, raises premiums

October 21, 2011 |  9:18 am

Walmart
Wal-Mart’s 1.4 million workers are about to see much less health coverage -– or pay much more for it -– than they’re used to.

The nation’s largest private employer is heavily scaling back its insurance plans for part-time workers while hiking up the premiums for full-time staff, according to the New York Times.

Bentonville, Ark., pointed to the ever-rising cost of healthcare, not the health reform law, as the motivation behind its policy changes this week.

The company’s health insurance plans will be off-limits to all future part-time employees who work less than 24 hours a week. Workers averaging 24 to 33 hours a week will no longer be able to add a spouse onto the coverage, though children are still eligible.

Wal-Mart had originally offered benefits to its part-time staff after they worked a year at the company.

In 2012, full-time employees will see premiums rise as much as 40%, according to The Times. Smokers will have to shell out up to $90 more during each pay period.

All this after Wal-Mart added its name to a letter sent to the president in 2009 urging healthcare reform, arguing that “healthcare costs more because we don’t cover everyone,” and adding that “a large and growing uninsured population also cripples our broader economic growth.”

Average annual premiums for family health benefits are up 9% in 2011 to more than $15,000 on average -– an increase that outpaces the 2.1% jump in workers' wages and the 3.2% rise in general inflation, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report last month.

RELATED:

Employer healthcare costs expected to slow in 2012

Cost of employer health coverage climbs, survey finds

New California healthcare laws expand consumer protections

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo credit: Walmart.com

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