Saturday, September 03, 2016

Family Bonus

I was wandering through the HR site yesterday, and came upon a benefits calculator.  You type in the salary you estimate, and whether you're on the single or family health plan, and whether you're on a local or national (more expensive) health plan.

At a given salary, the Social Security and retirement benefits are the same for both.

Not so the health plan.  Here's the single plan and the family plan (local health plan):

Employer part             Employee part

$19,900.68                  $2,604.00

That's right, people on the family plan pay about $1600 for the extra person/people on the health plan (it's the same if you've got a single extra person or a number of extra people).

Our employer, though, pays an extra $11, 000.  That's an untaxed benefit of $11,000 extra.  Wow.

When we talk about benefits (say, in union discussions when we're fantasizing), folks with kids often complain that they should get free or subsidized tuition, or free childcare or after-school care (child care is subsidized on campus: 7am-5:30pm costs $40/day for up to 3 year olds, for faculty; it's cheaper for students, more expensive for community members).

Benefits are part of the costs to employers that they have to figure when they're employing someone, and so, in reality, we get less take-home pay because of our benefits.  That's fine.  At least, it's fine inasmuch as we all have access to benefits.  It would be nice if we had more equal access.

But an extra $11K for family plan folks?  I blame the patriarchy. 

(And it's only very recently that same sex married folks could claim the untaxed benefit, though there was a time when same sex partner could get the benefit if they met all sorts of qualifiers that married folks didn't have to meet, but they had to pay taxes on it because they couldn't legally be married.  I'm not sure how it works for unmarried partners now.)

It would be nice if I could get my hands on an extra $11k untaxed benefits.  Maybe they could put more into my retirement?   (Think how much faster that would add up!)

It's hard for me to think of another benefit that would be as helpful to a non-family benefitting person here.

(Yes, I realize I'm privileged to have a job, and I'm happy to pay my taxes, especially for schools, libraries, roads, social services, and such, happy to support subsidized childcare on campus.  And I would be super duper happy if we'd move to a single-payer non-employer linked health insurance system!)


  1. That's a pretty startling figure. And it could be used for a significant part of your career, now that kids can stay on health insurance until they are 26!

  2. For folks who have a spouse on their insurance, it could be used for a full career.

  3. Our uni passes more of the family cost on to us, which is why my DH is on his own work plan (this year the kids are on mine, last year we were all on his). The uni does get a tax break on health costs compared to direct salary so it does make sense to subsidize rather than to give cash. Also it is interesting how when DH and I were both at the uni it cost less for us to be on separate plans than to have one family plan. Spouses are more likely to be high cost than are employees.

  4. Here, spouses without kids are generally on separate plans, while spouses with kids are generally all on one plan, since there's no extra to pay (so they save about $1k compared to using two plans and having a kid or kids on one of them).

    1. My husband's company is like that, which is why we all went on his plan last year instead of me staying on the uni's. Once the kids were on his plan, there was no point in me being on my own. And since I was off their insurance I got a small monetary bonus from the uni to spend on useless benefits I don't really need! (Last year would have been great (financially) for my accidental death and dismemberment!)

  5. Anonymous3:19 PM

    Yes. With no malice, but lots of frustrated sadness, I regularly feel devalued. A few years ago, the free health insurance for the single worker was ended, and HR told us we had to pay now, so that family insurance rates wouldn't rise too fast. Oh, and tuition benefit isn't offered to our dependents, only to sons, daughters and spouses. Down the hall, a colleague received private university free tuition for a wife and four children. My cousin was told no. And, of course, I and my other single colleagues must schedule courses around the demands of those with spouses and children, who have family commitments. Needing to arrange long term care or going a long distance to deal with a parental crisis is not considered to involve family.