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Wal-Mart, the 2nd-largest employer in the U.S., begins offering employees and their families free heart, spine and transplant surgeries and in efforts to curb rising healthcare costs.

Wal-Mart store

Retail goliath Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) is changing the shape of employer insurance programs by offering its workers no-cost heart and spine surgeries through a new "Centers of Excellence" initiative.

Wal-Mart selected 6 nationwide centers at which employees enrolled in the company's medical program can seek consultations and care without paying anything out of pocket, beginning in January.

The program includes payment for travel, lodging and food expenses for the patient and an accompanying caregiver, and covers all deductible and co-insurance fees, according to a press release.

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