Welcome to the new normal under Obama. Despite ramming through an unread bill that was promised to lower health care costs and put $2500 extra in a family’s pocket, Obamacare is having the opposite effect.
Wal-Mart Stores’ U.S. employees will pay between 8 percent and 36 percent more in premiums for its medical coverage in 2013, prompting some of the 1.4 million workers at the nation’s largest private employer to say they will forego coverage altogether.
In mailings sent to employees for its recently completed open-enrollment period, Wal-Mart[WMT 72.48 0.17 (+0.24%) ] noted that its rates would increase because health-care costs continue to rise.
For its most popular plan, which covers individuals, the payment per bi-weekly paycheck is going up by $2, or 13 percent. Other plans will see larger increases as the world’s largest retailer, known for low prices, tries to control its own costs.
Still, Wal-Mart said average costs its employees will bear should only rise about 4.4 percent in 2013, due to the elimination of some high premium plans, its move to offer free heart and spine surgery to most employees at six health-care centers, and provision of other services, such as access to a health-care advisor. That is less than the 9 percent average increase expected for all American workers next year, according to a study by human resources firm Aon Hewitt, though it isn’t clear whether the figures are comparable.
Wal-Mart’s example could be a blueprint for other employers trying to manage their costs while also preparing to meet the requirements of President Barack Obama’s U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was passed in 2010, and is widely referred to as Obamacare.
The law, the biggest reform to America’s health care in decades, is intended to make health care less expensive, but critics question if it will succeed and it will also take years to fully implement. In the meantime, Wal-Mart and other large companies are trying to control their health-care costs, which have been rising an average of more than 6 percent per year.
…Some workers say the price hikes for next year have pushed them to drop coverage.
“I really can’t even afford it now, so for it to go up even a dollar for me is a stretch,” said Colby Harris, who said he makes $8.90 per hour and takes home less than $20,000 per year working in the Walmart store’s produce department in Lancaster, Texas.