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Walgreens to Change Employee Health Benefits Under Obamacare

Image: Walgreens to Change Employee Health Benefits Under Obamacare

By Lisa Barron   |   Wednesday, 18 Sep 2013 09:55 AM

Walgreens is set to make major changes to the medical benefits it provides to employees when Obamacare goes into effect in January.

The drugstore giant is expected to unveil a plan Wednesday that would give payments to eligible employees for the subsidized purchase of health coverage on private insurance exchanges, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Related: Florida Leads Red States in Obstructing Obamacare

Walgreens is the latest company to make changes to their benefits, joining IBM, Time Warner, Sears and Darden Restaurants, who have all said they will move employees to a private exchange.

Private exchanges are essentially online marketplaces where employers select various health plans to offer workers and contribute a lump sum to help them pay for the coverage they choose.

Under Walgreens’ new arrangement, which takes effect in 2014, the company will reportedly pay a fixed amount for employees to select coverage options from up to 25 different plans in a private exchange run by Aon Hewitt, a consulting unit of Aon PLC.

It isn’t clear how much money the move might save Walgreens or whether its workers will face higher costs, according to the Journal.

The future of health insurance under the Affordable Care Act may also be changing dramatically for part-time workers. Trader Joe’s, which has extended coverage to many of its part-time employees for years, said in a memo to staffers last month that they will now have to find insurance on the exchanges established under Obamacare, reports The Huffington Post.

Trader Joe's CEO Dan Bane said the company will give part-time workers a check for $500 in January and help guide them toward finding a new plan under Obamacare. The company will continue to offer health coverage to workers who carry 30 hours or more on average.

The law mandates that companies with 50 employees or more offer coverage to full-time employees, although the Obama administration has chosen to delay implementation of that rule until 2015.

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