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Wal-Mart announces cutbacks on employee health care

Shoppers exit a Walmart store on March 29, 2011 in Valley Stream, New York.

Bob Moon: Those familiar "smiley faces" at Wal-Mart gave way to some frowns today after the retail giant announced some cutbacks in its employee health care coverage. It's going to stop offering health insurance to any new hires who work less than 24 hours a week. And full time employees weren't spared either -- their premiums will be going up. Smokers, especially, will be seeing a big jump in costs.

Barbara Collins works at a Walmart in Placerville, Calif. We found her through an employee-run organization called "Our Wal-Mart." Collins has been with the store for six years. She works full-time as a sales associate.

Barbara Collins: I pay $10 every two weeks, and it's going up to 18. My deductible is $1000 now, come January 1, it'll be 5000. I don't make that much money. I don't see how anybody thinks I can bay those bills.

Wal-Mart says it had to make choices that it wishes it didn't have to make, but it will keep paying the majority of costs for employee health care. The company says it currently insures more than one million people, including the families of its workers.

About the author

Bob Moon is Marketplace’s senior business correspondent, based in Los Angeles.

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