30,000 Walmart Workers To See Health Benefits Eliminated (WMT)

Nearly 30,000 Walmart workers just learned that they would no longer be eligible for health insurance through the company they work for. After Dec. 31, employees working less than an average of 30 hours a week will no longer be eligible for health insurance through the company’s plan. This totals about 5 percent of the company’s part-time work force.

Walmart is currently the largest private employer in the United States. Walmart currently employs nearly 1.3 million people throughout the United States. About 1.2 million employees and employees’ family members are currently covered under Walmart’s existing health insurance plan.

However, many participants of the company’s part-time work force were never eligible for health benefits, so the total percentage of the company’s employees that will be working without health benefits after the change is unknown. This is not the first time that Walmart has cut employee health benefits. In a previous action in 2011, Walmart employees working fewer than 24 hours a week had their health insurance benefits eliminated.

Walmart is currently the world’s largest retailer. A considerable number of other large retailers have also reduced their health care benefits for employees in response to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, including Home Depot, Target and Trader Joe’s. Many of them cite an unaffordable rise in their health care costs when asked for a reason for the reduction of benefits for their employees.

This was the reason used by Sally Welborn, Walmart’s senior vice president for global benefits, in a company blog post detailing the changes. Further details disclosed that the implementation of the Affordable Care Act had resulted in larger-than-expected numbers of employees enrolling in its health plans, increasing expenses by a significant amount. In a filing made in August, the company estimated that it would spend an additional $500 million on health care costs in the United States this year instead of the $330 million increase predicted by the company in February of this year.

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