Don’t accept a new position without first reviewing your employer’s benefits package.
You may be a skilled negotiator when it comes to salary and time off, but health insurance is increasingly becoming an increasingly important factor when choosing a new employer and deciding whether or not to accept. a job offer.
On the one hand, your health benefits must be comprehensive; you don’t want to be stuck with inadequate emergency coverage or your wallet could take a hit.
“Health care costs are quickly becoming a substantial part of employee living expenses,” says Kim Buckey, vice president of customer services at DirectPath, an education and benefits services company. She points out that potential out-of-pocket expenses, whether employee contributions or high deductibles, can cost people a significant chunk of their median annual income these days.
In fact, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, employees contributed about $1,213 to their own premiums in 2017 and $5,714 to family coverage. “As such, you’ll want to make sure you have the best possible health benefits and fully understand how this coverage works,” says Buckey.
To help you make the smartest choice, ask potential employers these questions about the health benefits of their company.
Is there a waiting period for coverage?
Today, waiting periods for coverage typically range from zero to 90 days, says Eric Gulko, president of Innovo Benefits Group, a benefits management company. If there is a waiting period before your new coverage takes effect, you will want to ensure that you have coverage in place until the end of the period, either by extending your previous employer’s coverage through COBRA, coverage under your parents’ plan (if you’re under 26), or through an individual plan, Buckey says. As part of your offer negotiation, you can ask if the company would be willing to partially fund your COBRA benefits for this period.
Is my family covered, and if not, how much will it cost me?
It is rare to find an employer who will fully cover the bonuses of its hires, let alone the partners and children of its employees. But the amount you’ll pay for family coverage varies widely.
Do some math before seeing if adding someone to your plan is the smartest choice for you financially. “Sometimes companies penalize employees if their spouses have coverage available at their own workplace, but choose coverage under your employer’s plan instead,” says Gulko. This is something you will want to check out.
Do employees have the option of opting out of company health care?
Perhaps you already have great health benefits through your spouse. If so, you can ask if there are any deactivation bonuses available if you choose to get your coverage elsewhere, says Gulko. But remember: there may be a surcharge on your spouse’s side to cover you, so be sure to check the math to see if it makes sense to skip coverage through your new employer.
If you are considering coverage under the Affordable Care Act, keep in mind that if you opt for health benefits purchased through the exchange, you will not be eligible for a subsidy if your employer provides affordable coverage. , said Buckey. “In general, group coverage through an employer is the least expensive option,” she adds.
Can I view specific health plan coverages?
You don’t necessarily want to disclose your medical history before you even get hired, but if you have a medical condition, you want to be especially sure that the health coverage will meet your needs. Your best bet is to simply request a copy of the Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs) and/or Summaries of Benefits and Coverage (SBCs) of the options offered by the company, says Gulko.
“The SBC outlines out-of-pocket expenses – copays, deductibles, coinsurance – very specifically by each common category,” Gulko explains, “and it’s written in the same format for all benefit plans for all companies.”
Another thing you can do, Buckey adds, is ask if the company offers any voluntary benefits, such as hospital, critical illness or cancer insurance.
Does your company offer reimbursement plans with tax advantages?
Many employers are turning to high-deductible health insurance plans that include Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs), and/or Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). These accounts are designed to provide a financial safety net if you incur unexpected medical expenses.
“HSAs and FSAs can provide a mechanism to reduce your current income taxes and allow you to set aside funds to cover future expenses,” says Buckey. In this sense, Gulko recommends knowing if the employer offers contributions to these accounts, which can be an added advantage.
Are there any services to help me understand my benefits/bills I receive in order to reduce costs?
There’s no doubt that healthcare coverage is confusing, which is why many employers are now taking a proactive approach to helping employees manage their benefits. “An employer who helps their employees choose a plan, with their questions answered throughout the year as they use the plan, and support in resolving billing issues is an employer who is committed to your manage your healthcare costs and minimize your financial stress,” says Bucky.
Does your company offer rewards programs?
“Ask for any documentation regarding wellness programs and related discounts and incentives,” says Gulko. These rewards programs encourage employees to “shop around” for needed treatment at a lower cost, while ensuring high-quality care.
Employees typically receive a percentage of the savings from using a lower-cost vendor, or a lump sum dollar reward, Buckey says — a win-win situation for the company and for you. There may also be wellness programs that offer incentives to adopt healthy habits, such as going to the gym or getting a flu shot.
What is the size of the provider network offered by the plan?
Many health insurance plans offer tighter provider networks than in the past, so you’ll want to know the specific name of the network so you can go online and do some research to see if your current doctors participate.
While you may not fully understand the ins and outs of health coverage until you start using it, the more information you have up front, the better equipped you will be to compare benefits. .
“Like many things in life, we have to make the best decisions we can with the facts in front of us at the time,” says Gulko. “With healthcare being such an expensive and important part of our lives, it makes sense to ask a few questions about it as part of your bid evaluation process.”
What else do you need to know?
A good job offer is what you are looking for, but remember: the salary is not the only thing that matters. Before you sign on the dotted line, there are plenty of other considerations to weigh, from commuter reimbursements to sick days to promotion prospects. Need help understanding the ins and outs of job postings? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can sign up to receive career advice, job search tips, and negotiation strategies sent straight to your inbox to help you make smart, informed choices. Think of it as insurance for your career.
This article is not intended to replace legal advice. Always seek the advice of an attorney with any questions you may have.
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