Trend: People will be forced to take more responsibility for their wellness (or lack thereof).
In the face of rising health care costs and steady criticism of its existing plans, the Bentonville, Ark.-based retail colossus is adopting a less expensive health benefits program. One reform is the creation of health savings accounts for employees.
The move by the world's largest private employer is the latest sign of HSAs' fast-growing popularity as a way to control health care costs. The federal government created HSAs just last year.
Only 7% of businesses surveyed last May by Buck Consultants had begun to offer HSAs. But 32% said they plan to start one by next year.
HSAs combine catastrophic health insurance with upfront deductibles. Workers divert part of their pay into a savings account; the money can be invested so it grows. That account also pays for a worker's medical expenses.
Basically, in return for higher deductibles, insurers aim to lower premiums.
That's a key incentive for corporations, whose profits are increasingly pinched by escalating costs for health care.