This change comes only a few years after Wal-Mart increased employee health coverage in response to rising Medicaid costs and pressure from states, labor unions and community groups. The company's decision was not easy, but ultimately it was about "managing costs and providing quality care and coverage", Wal-Mart spokesperson Greg Rossiter told the Times.
The 2012 plan will increase premiums more than 40 percent for some Wal-Mart employees and have "high deductibles that sometimes exceed 20 percent of their annual pay," Greenhouse and Abelson write. Rates may also be higher for tobacco users.
Wal-Mart is not alone in passing more health care costs to employees. "Nationwide, employer-sponsored health premiums are up 9 percent, and increases of 5 percent or more are predicted for next year, with workers shouldering higher burdens on premiums and deductibles," Greenhouse and Abelson write.