Walmart eliminates health care benefits for future part-time employees

Vittorio Hernandez – AHN News

Bentonville, AR, United States (AHN) – Wal-Mart is reducing the company’s expenses on healthcare by announcing on Thursday a series of changes that will affect future employees. The world’s largest retailer justified the changes to rising operating costs.

Among the highlights of the change is that future part-time employees who clock in less than 24 hours a week on average would no longer be given health insurance coverage. Those who would work from 24 to 33 hours a week could no longer include a spouse on their health plan, but they could still add their children.

Before the recession and financial crisis, Wal-Mart even widened health care coverage for its workers and their families by offering health care insurance to part-time employees working less than 24 hours a week after one year on the job. The health plan cost was about $250 a year per family.

Besides future employees, some current workers would also have to pay more under the 2012 health plan offering of Wal-Mart. To be affected are workers who smoke. They would be mandated to pay an extra amount ranging from $10 to $90 each pay period if they want to have health coverage.

It is not only health care costs that Wal-Mart is cutting, but also prices on its toys to boost the retailer’s income during the Christmas season. A comparison of prices with competitors showed that prices of a group of 15 toys are cheaper by 6 percent compared to Target and by 13 percent compared to Kmart.

Compared to Amazon, Walmart prices are lower on eighteen play things and on twelve comparable toys at Toys “R”: Us.

The National Retail Federation forecast last week that growth of U.S. retail sales would slow down to 2.8 percent during the yearend holiday due to high unemployment rate, weak housing market and volatile stock market.

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