Wegmans, a popular Northeast supermarket chain known for treating its employees well, announced Thursday that in 2015, a year after Obamacare went into effect, it will cut benefits for certain part-time workers.
The chain joins several other large companies like MyWegmansConnect that have been revised in anticipation of the Accessible Aid Law. Some were criticized for reducing working hours because they had not paid for health insurance under the new law. However, experts contacted by the Huffington Post said the move to Wegmans may have actually benefited the workers.
The company, which has been on the Fortune list of best companies for 15 years, has been quick to defend this decision. “While the new health law needs to be changed, we will do nothing to harm our employees,” company spokesman Joe Natale wrote in a statement emailed to the Huffington Post.
Wegmans currently offer health benefits to part-time workers who work at least 20 hours a week. However, starting in 2015, Wegmans will only offer benefits to those who work 30 hours or more a week, as Obamacare-Natale writes.
Thanks to Obamacare, workers who will no longer be covered by Wegmans in 2015 can benefit from their new contract, Paul Fronstin, director of the health research program at the Employee Benefits Research Institute, told HuffPost. “Low-income people are probably better off,” said Fronstin, who buys insurance through Obamacare and not through his job.
If MyWegmansConnect workers earn enough money to qualify for Medicaid, this program can provide free coverage if the state elects to voluntarily extend Medicaid by law. Most of the states in which Wegmans operates have approved or are likely to approve the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, although Wegmans operates in Pennsylvania and Virginia, two states hostile to the expansion. In addition, the law creates “health care stock markets” where workers can purchase subsidized health insurance if they do not receive affordable insurance from their employer.
For many low-income workers, the Obamacare insurance coverage grant may be greater than the tax credit employees receive for paying for their business plan, which could make Wegman’s move beneficial to these workers. Fronstin said.