Wal-Mart to cut health insurance benefits to part-time staff

Wal-Mart said Tuesday that its 1.3 million workers would have to pay more for healthcare and it would cut health-insurance benefits to part-time staffs who work fewer than 30 hours per week.

Sally Welborn, Senior Vice President of Global Benefits for the company said Wal-Mart will continue to focus on giving employees quality benefits, but it’s no longer able to look the other way when it comes to costs.
“Like every company, Wal-Mart continues to face rising health care costs,” Senior Vice President of global benefits Sally Welborn wrote in the blogpost on the company’s website. “This year, the expenses were significant and led us to make some tough decisions as we begin our annual enrollment.”

Under the Affordable Care Act, large companies beginning in 2015 must offer coverage to most employees working 30 hours a week or more or pay a penalty starting at around $2,000 per worker. Most individuals, meanwhile, must show that they have health insurance or pay an individual penalty.

MaryAnn Miller, Chief human resources officer, said that the concern about the 2018 tax was driving the company, which has around 6,000 U.S. employees. Without any changes the company had estimated that by 2018, the tax would cost it $1.4 million.

Wal-Mart said its most popular, lowest cost associate plan will see an increase of $3.50 per pay period to $21.90, which it says remains half the average premium employees at other retailers pay.

Welborn said the company will not change the maximum out-of-pocket payments or deductible for employees who elect to sign-up for coverage under a Wal-Mart-offered plan. Welborn said employees with health care reimbursement accounts, or HRAs, will not see a change: Wal-Mart will continue to provide up to $250 for an individual and up to $1,000 for a family. For members who meet the deductible, the plan will pay 75% of eligible costs for office visits, tests, hospitalizations, and other qualified services, that’s down slightly from 80% offered this year.

Ms. Wellborn said that they can’t predict where they will go, but they are going to help them find affordable health care. The change that was announced will be implemented in January 2015.

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