Reuters: Wal-Mart Raising Health Care Premiums

Wal-Mart's most popular health insurance plan is going up by a couple of dollars a month as the retail giant seeks to manage costs ahead of the Affordable Health Care Act, and Wal-Mart employees, not surprisingly, aren't happy.

Reuters reports that Wal-Mart's U.S. employees will pay between 8 and 36 percent more in premiums for coverage beginning in 2013. Its most popular plan, which covers individuals, will cost $2 more per bi-weekly paycheck.

Wal-Mart has about 1.4 million U.S. workers, and many of them already are saying they'll have to drop their coverage. From Reuters:

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 healthcare 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.

Reuters thinks Wal-Mart's plan could serve as a blueprint for other companies trying to manage costs while also figuring out how to deal with the coming health-care overhaul. Insurance premiums nationwide are expected to rise by an average of 6.3 percent in 2013, according to a report cited by Reuters. They have been rising by an average of more than 6 percent per year.

Should be an interesting next few weeks.