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30,000 More Workers Are About to Lose Their Health Insurance

“We can’t predict where they will go..."

(Image source: Shutterstock)

An additional 30,000 workers, who used to get health insurance from the country's largest employer, will lose coverage as health care costs skyrocket.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday evening that Walmart will stop offering coverage to many part-time employees, and employees who still get coverage will have to pay increased premiums.

In this Dec. 4, 2013 file photo, April Taylor, of Upper Marlboro, Md., right, buys items with her son Jarhon Taylor, left, on the opening day of a new Wal-Mart store in Washington. Wal-Mart announced Tuesday that 30,000 part-time employees would be losing health coverage Jan. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Walmart, the largest private U.S. employer with 1.4 million workers, used to offer health insurance to all employees, including part-timers, the Journal noted.

The Affordable Care Act — commonly referred to as Obamacare — was passed in 2010, and the following year Walmart stopped offering health care coverage to employees working fewer than 24 hours per week.

In 2012, the company raised the coverage cutoff to 30 hours per week, and on Tuesday, it announced that the 30,000 part-timers who had been grandfathered into the insurance program would lose their coverage starting Jan. 1.

Going forward, only part-timers who log 30-34 hours per week will be eligible for Walmart's health coverage, and they'll be paying increased premiums.

For workers on Walmart's cheapest and most popular insurance plan, premium costs will rise roughly 20 percent, the Journal reported.

As the Journal noted, Obamacare's individual mandate pushed many workers to sign up for coverage at an unprecedented rate, leaving Walmart facing an extra, unexpected $500 million in health coverage costs this year.

“We can’t take our eyes off costs,” Sally Welborn, senior vice president of global benefits at Walmart, told the Journal.

Whether part-timers will be able to hop on a spouse's insurance, go to the government health insurance exchanges or pursue some other option remains to be seen, but Walmart pledged to help.

“We can’t predict where they will go, but we are going to help them find affordable health care,” Welborn promised.

Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter

Front page image via Shutterstock

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