The Great Walmart Worker Squeeze

Walmart is at it again, slashing benefits for their workers.  This time Walmart will deny health insurance to employees working less than 30 hours a week.  That's about 28,000 Walmart workers.  Walmart isn't alone in throwing part-time workers under the healthcare bus as Target, Home Depot, Walgreens and Trader Joe’s. have already denied healthcare coverage for their workers.

On one hand, the idea of tying one's health to a company, where in order to receive healthcare insurance one must work, is an absurd idea.  On the other hand, this throws almost 30,000 people under the bus.  Since Walmart wages are so low, it's doubtful, even with subsidies, these people will be able to afford the insurance on their own.

The truth is Walmart is not alone kicking their part-time workers to the curb:

Wal-Mart, which employs about 1.4 million full- and part-time U.S. workers, says about 1.2 million Wal-Mart workers and family members combined now participate in its health care plan. And that has had an impact on Wal-Mart's bottom line. Wal-Mart now expects the impact of higher health care costs to be about $500 million for the current fiscal year, or about $170 million higher than the original estimate of about $330 million that it gave in February.

But Wal-Mart is among the last of its peers to cut health insurance for some part-time workers. In 2013, 62 percent of large retail chains didn't offer health care benefits to any of its part-time workers, according to Mercer, a global consulting company. That's up from 56 percent in 2009.

First, there are 25 states who refused to expand Medicaid.  Odds are these part-time workers, many would qualify being on the cusp or in poverty.  Yet now they would remain uninsured most likely if they are in those states.  Walmart is notorious for poverty level wages and those making less than 138% of the federal poverty level cannot get a subsidy for health insurance.

This comes with the added absurdity of Walmart wanting to sell health insurance.  Imagine trusting a company who refuses to insure their own employees.  The denial is astounding.  Walmart wants to be one stop shopping for health care. as if America will not notice or care how they treat their own employees.  Would you trust them?

Our goal is to be the number one health-care provider in the industry,” said Labeed Diab, president of health and wellness for Wal-Mart U.S. “And the more we broaden our assortment, the more we broaden our offering, the more we educate the customer Wal-Mart is a great place to create a one-stop shop.

Of course there are scenarios where the person could get coverage cheaper, but that is all highly dependent upon income, state, and plans offered.  Even the linked example had to fudge as the average worker wage at Walmart is $8.81, not the $12 claimed by some trying to spin low wages and no benefits as a good thing.

Some are predicting the end of employee based health insurance.  Walmart we hope is the exception to the norm and just a terrible example of employee group health insurance benefits being cut to the bone, even for those who have them.  Forbes pointed out just one illness with the type of health insurance Walmart offers is a sure fire path to the poor house.

There is a $2750 deductible outside of preventative care mandated by the Affordable Care Act. After the deductible, the plan covers 80 percent of costs. The money employees have to pay themselves has an out-of-pocket annual maximum of $5,000. There is a minimum $250 health reimbursement that Walmart offers.

At issue is how much a seriously ill employee could face in expenses in a year. Let’s work the numbers. Say someone lands in the hospital and faces a $30,000 bill. That amount is hardly unrealistic, given that in 2010, according to the federal government, the average hospital stay for all ages was $9,700. For adults in the 18 to 64 year range, the amount ran between $7,200 and $12,100. Recognize that those average costs are calculated across all patients, whether they face the full amount hospitals bill or the reduced sums that insurers often negotiate.

First the Walmart employee would face the $2,750 deductible, less the $250 reimbursement, or $2,500. That leaves $27,500, 20 percent of which is $5,500. Walmart’s insurance would require the employee to pay $5,000.

An employee in for an extended stay or possibly an operation now faces bills of $7,500. That may be affordable for employees who make higher salaries, but it isn’t for the bulk of Walmart workers.

Yup, that's a bad scene for Walmart workers but the thing few are talking about is Obamacare isn't any better.  There too we still have break the bank policies redressed as bronze, silver, gold and platinum