Rising health care costs are taking a toll on Walmart and its workers. The nation's largest private employer is scaling back health care coverage for future part-time workers while raising premiums for many of its full-time workers.
Among the changes:
"Over the last few years, we've all seen our health care rates increase and it's probably not a surprise that this year will be no different," Walmart spokesperson Greg Rossiter told The New York Times. "We made the difficult decision to raise rates that will affect our associates' medical costs. The decisions made were not easy, but they strike a balance between managing costs and providing quality care and coverage."
At Walmart, part-time associates become eligible for healthcare coverage after working for the chain for one year. The company defines full-time workers as anyone who works 34 or more hours per week.
MarketWatch noted that according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, U.S. workers paid $3,997 for family health-care coverage they got through their jobs in 2010, 47 percent more than the amount in 2005, while their wages rose only 18 percent. Employers, in contrast, paid 20 percent more toward their employees during the same period.
Is health insurance as a benefit any more or less important in retail than it is in other industries?