Wal-Mart Rolls Back Health Care Benefits

on October 21, 2011

Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private employer and the world’s largest retailer, is rolling back its health benefits for part-time workers and raising premiums for many of its full-time staff, The New York Times reported Friday.

In the wake of rising costs, the company announced this week that all future part-time employees who work less than 24 hours a week on average would no longer be eligible for the company’s health care plans. Additionally, spouses will no longer be included on plans of new employees who work between 24 hours and 33 hours on average, although children could still be included. Full-time workers who are smokers will see their premiums rise substantially.

While the retail giant claims President Obama’s health care reform law is not the reason behind the changes in benefits, a company spokesman cited growing costs of health care as the reason for the change.

You have to ask yourself – if the health care reform law doesn’t lower costs and increase access to healthcare, what does it do? After all, candidate Obama promised the law would lower costs by an average of $2,500 per family, in his first term at that.

A recent study conducted by the Hudson Institute for the International Franchise Association found Obama’s employer mandate creates an incentive for employers to make the kinds of decision Wal-Mart that has.  It states that the legislation “increases the cost of doing business for tens of thousands of business owners who are struggling to recover from the deepest recession since the Great Depression.”

While Wal-Mart may be the first company to make the choice to drop coverage for many of its workers, odds are it won’t be the last.  That’s why it’s vitally important to freeze implementation of the health care reform law now.