Despite the fact that members of the Walton family, which founded Walmart, are consistently at the top of the list of the richest individuals in America, and even though some of Walmart’s workers are being paid such low wages that employees at one of its stores actually started a food drive for co-workers in need last year, the retail giant has decided it has to cut corners. The United States’ largest private employer, The Wall Street Journal reports, will raise health insurance premiums for its workers and stop providing coverage for thousands of its employees working less than 30 hours a week in an effort to “contain costs in the wake of the federal health-care law.”

What’s perhaps worse, however, is that according to Forbes contributor Erik Sherman, “Even many thousands of full-time workers employed by the company could find that a single serious illness or hospitalization could break them financially with deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses high enough to consume much of a year’s earnings.”

At this point, Walmart should seriously consider changing its slogan from “Always low prices” to “Always low wages and shitty benefits.”

Forbes:

“Healthcare costs have increased each year and Walmart has worked hard to avoid passing on costs to our associates,” Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove told me, an observation that would be of no surprise to anyone running a business. To help contain costs, the company will stop offering healthcare coverage to 30,000 employees who averaged fewer than 30 hours a week over the period from October 5, 2013 to October 5, 2014.

Walmart has told me in the past that approximately 40 percent of the company is part-time, which the company defines as fewer than 34 hours of work a week. According to Hargrove, many part-time employees may have been on a spouse’s or parents’ insurance plan, and so had not taken advantage of the coverage. In addition, there is the question of whether turnover and new hires would mean thousands of part-time workers brought on over the last year would not have officially been eligible, and so not count as part of the 30,000 losing coverage.

But there is a bigger problem that the particulars of the most popular plans at the company might leave people in financial disaster should the worst happen. According to Hargrove, the “most popular and lowest [cost]” plan is currently $18.40 for individual coverage every two week pay period. The amount will rise to $21.90 starting in January….

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—Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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