Wal-Mart cuts health benefits for 30,000 part-time workers

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Wal-Mart, the country’s largest retailer, is eliminating health benefits for about 30,000 employees to control its rising healthcare costs.

The cut applies to part-timers who work fewer than 30 hours a week, Wal-Mart said Tuesday. It impacts 2% of the company’s U.S. workforce.

More of Wal-Mart’s employees signed up for health benefits this year than the company expected, which boosted the company’s costs..

Obamacare requires everyone to have coverage, which has prompted people to compare plans available to them at work with plans offered on government exchanges. The cheapest and most popular Wal-Mart plan currently costs employees as little as $18.40 per paycheck. (That’s going up to $21.90 next year.)

“This year, the expenses were significant and led us to make some tough decisions as we begin our annual enrollment,” wrote Wal-Mart executive Sally Welborn in a blog post.

In August, the company said the increased enrollment led to a $500 million jump in healthcare costs compared to last year.

Wal-Mart is not the first company to trim health benefits in the wake of Obamacare’s roll out. Rival Target announced in January that it was eliminating benefits for all part-time workers. It encouraged those employees to enroll in Obamacare and gave a $500 cash payment to each of them.

Home Depot and Trader Joe’s announced last year that they would stop offering coverage to part-timers.

A Wal-Mart spokeswoman said the company will not limit the hours employees work as a result of the benefits change.