Two major employers are offering workers more control over their health benefits, a switch that could mean less coverage.
Sears and Darden Restaurants — the parent company of the Olive Garden, Red Lobster and other chain eateries — plan to start giving their employees a pot of money and letting them choose both their insurer and level of coverage from an online marketplace, The Wall Street Journal reports. The move may mean that employees end up paying more for their coverage out of pocket if the sum provided by their employers doesn’t go up as quickly as health care costs.
In a statement to The Huffington Post, Sears’ spokesman Chris Brathwaite disputed the WSJ report and clarified the change.
“We are ABSOLUTELY still providing health care benefits and we are not giving employees money to buy health insurance. In fact, in 2013 we will be subsidizing eligible associates and their family members’ medical benefits at the same level that we are this year.” Brathwaite wrote in part in an e-mail. “The corporate exchange model brings increased flexibility to group health coverage for our associates, giving participants a chance to choose both the level of coverage and the insurance company that best meets their needs.”