NEW YORK -- Walmart on Tuesday said it would eliminate health insurance benefits for some part-time workers in the United States and would raise insurance premiums overall to offset rising health-care costs.

The retail giant will stop providing coverage to part-time employees who work fewer than 30 hours per week, said Sally Welborn, senior vice president for global benefits at Wal-Mart Stores, in a corporate blog post.

The company will still provide health insurance to employees -- called "associates" at the world's largest retailer -- who work 30 hours or more per week.

But cutting benefits for those working less than 30 hours a week means Walmart has the same policy as other large retailers, including Target, Home Depot, Walgreens and Trader Joe's, she said.

Welborn said the moves were necessary to compensate for higher costs across the system, including costlier doctor visit and more expensive prescriptions.

"We don't make these decisions lightly," she said.

The shift affects about 2% of Walmart's US workforce of about 1.3 million.

Welborn said US employees eligible for health care benefits will see an increase in premiums for 2015. The change means Walmart's most popular plan will cost employees $21.90 per pay period, up by $3.50.

"Like every company, Walmart continues to face rising health care costs," Welborn said. "This year, the expenses were significant and led us to make some tough decisions as we begin our annual enrollment."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014