Sears, Darden Restaurants announce defined-contribution programs for employee health benefits

Two companies take step toward defining new model in employee health care benefits

Most large employers are sticking with the status quo in employee health care benefits until the full ramifications of the new health care reform law are known, but two major companies are taking a big step toward defining a new model.

Sears Holding Corp. and Darden Restaurants Inc. announced in late September that they are implementing defined-contribution programs for employee health benefits, giving employees a fixed sum of money and allowing them to choose their medical coverage and insurer from a private online marketplace. The move is similar to companies that replaced pension plans with 401(k) contributions, allowing employees to choose their own investments.

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Mary Swanton

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