Friday, October 21, 2011
Today's New York Times reports that Wal-Mart is substantially "rolling back" health care coverage for part-time workers and raising premiums for full-timers:
Citing rising costs, Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private employer, told its employees this week that all future part-time employees who work less than 24 hours a week on average will no longer qualify for any of the company’s health insurance plans.
In addition, any new employees who average 24 hours to 33 hours a week will no longer be able to include a spouse as part of their health care plan, although children can still be covered.
In Wal-Mart’s 2012 health offerings, premiums will increase for some plans by more than 40 percent, although many of their workers pay relatively low premiums in comparison to more generous plans offered by other employers. But many Wal-Mart employees complain that their low premiums are accompanied by high deductibles that sometimes exceed 20 percent of their annual pay.
Wal-Mart’s new health offerings will require many employees who smoke to pay a significant penalty. They will be required to pay an extra $10 to $90 each pay period — $260 to $2,340 a year — if they want health coverage.
If it were just Wal-Mart, this would be bad enough. But I strongly suspect that this will put pressure on -- or give excuses to -- other retailers (almost all of whom have huge part-time salesforces) to cut benefits for their part-time workers as well.
Hat tip: Jennifer Clemons.