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I GOT AN OFFER!!!!!

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First – Happy Father’s Day to all! I’ll be back Monday with a Father’s Day recap post to let you know what we’re up to. But in the meantime, I wanted to get this post up sooner so I can try to get as much feedback from readers as possible, given that this is a time-sensitive issue. Thanks so much! I hope you’re all having a great weekend!

 

Hallelujah, y’all! I’m not even going to lie. I was starting to wonder if this would ever happen. I’ve come up with a whole contingency plan of what I’ll do if I never land a full-time position (continue working part-time teaching online, then also go back to in-person adjunct teaching once the girls start public school).

So I am THRILLED to announce that I’m on the verge of signing the deal with an awesome department where I will be so excited to work!

I really, really want to spill all the details about the salary negotiations but I’ve decided to hold back because I certainly don’t want it to get back to the department and jeopardize anything. So instead of dishing everything, I’ll give you some general information about the first round of negotiations and tell you some more specific details about the benefits package to get your feedback there. This is a bit of a long one, so prepare yourself.

Here we go…

At my meeting last Friday, I was offered a position and money was discussed almost immediately. I nodded and smiled and then proceeded to discuss job duties and responsibilities for the next hour without ever mentioning a salary amount. When the conversation was wrapping up I was point-blank asked what I had hoped for in terms of salary. I’m kicking myself now because I asked for more money, but I was met with an immediate “DONE!” which definitely leads me to believe I short-changed myself a little and could have asked for more. In all, the pay is more than I’d expected they’d give me, but less than what’d I’d really wanted.

In terms of benefits, it’s a mixed bag.

The university gives excellent 401k matching (up to 7% immediately, and up to 11.6% after six months of employment!!!). They also offer a child care voucher of $1500 (literally only covers one month of full-time childcare, but it’s free money so I’m thankful for it). Additionally, they offer a flexible spending account where I can put up to 5,000 pre-tax dollars aside for childcare – essentially saving the taxes from that $5,000.

So all that is good. Here’s some of the okay-not-great part of the benefits package…

The health/dental/vision package isn’t as good as I’d hoped.

For health, my options are between a PPO and a health saving account (HSA) option. The PPO is $486/month and has a $1,000 deductible. The HSA is $193/month, has a $2500 deductible, and the university contributes $120/month to the account. I’m leaning toward the HSA, but there’s a HUGE caveat. The info I’ve been given says “You must submit valid claims before the end of the claims period runs out. Any unclaimed remaining funds will be forfeited to your employer, so estimate your expenses carefully and set money aside accordingly.” So I’m not super thrilled that the money doesn’t just sit and accumulate, but can actually be lost. Anyone with strong opinions one way or the other (regarding PPO versus HSA), please comment. I’m new to this, so I’d love to hear from others’ experiences!

The vision is simple enough – only $16/month.

The dental is kind of disappointing. $105/month covers free preventative care. But they only cover 50% of other procedures and there’s a $2,000 annual limit per person. I’m really giving this plan the side-eye. I feel like it might be more beneficial just to stay without dental and pay out of pocket as we go (or buy the cheap dental discount programs that you can start and stop easily). Still – I may choose to enroll in the dental for the first month or two of employment to try to get hubs to have his dental work done, and then quit so we don’t keep paying the premium year-round. Thoughts? Opinions?

To sum up, we’re looking at:

  • $193 (HSA) + $105 (dental) + $16 (vision) = $314/month, not including any contributions to the health savings account and not including the fact that we’d have to pay the first $2500 out-of-pocket.   OR
  • $486 (PPO) + $105 + $16 = $607/month. That seems like a lot for health care! We only pay $350/month currently for health/vision, but that’s a non ACA-approved insurance that was grandfathered in. It expires December 31st of this year at which point we’ll have to upgrade to an ACA-approved plan. I’ve priced independent health insurance to be about $1,000/month so this seems to me like the university paying approximately half of the premium (note: in their benefits materials they say they pay 85%…but that figure seems a bit high. It would mean the insurance is incredibly expensive before their contribution).

When I left the meeting, we had negotiated a salary and I essentially gave verbal assent. BUT I did leave myself some wiggle room by specifically saying I was eager to look over the full package in writing, including benefits, and that I’d give my final decision in a few days.

Given that the benefits aren’t quite what I had hoped (meaning, the university doesn’t pay as much of the health/dental/vision as I had hoped), would it be tacky to go back and try to negotiate for a little bit more money? That’s what I’d like to do, but I’m also a little nervous. I’ve read horror stories online of people who took negotiations too far and ended up having the offer rescinded. Thoughts? Opinions? Advice?

I’m leaning toward sending a very complimentary email talking about how genuinely excited I am to start this position (which is 100% true), but then to say that after looking over the full offer package I was a little disappointed about the benefits package and wanted to know if they would be open to raising my salary a little to compensate for the benefits. – Ugh! I cringe just writing that out! I have no idea how to write it so it still comes across as thankful for the job offer and conveys that I’m excited to start….but that, ultimately, I’d like a little more money. Again – thoughts? Is it okay to handle this in email or would a phone call be more appropriate? Give me your tips!!!!

Thanks in advance for any advice!

Also, thank you for all the comments on my negotiations post! You guys are awesome and gave me so many great ideas! I’m very thankful for your collective insight! You readers are a smart group : )

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads, Granddads, and special men in peoples’ lives. And Happy Day to single parents doing it alone (Moms or Dads), and to all those who no longer have a living father….my thoughts are with you all!

Ashley

Texan at heart; Arizonan on paper. Lover of running, cheese, camping, and family (fur-family included!). Blogger, motivated to get out of debt YESTERDAY! Follow along with my journey!

Latest posts by Ashley (see all)


52 Comments

  • Reply Kay |

    So if you put money in the hsa account, your employer can still take your contributions at the end of the claims period? That doesn’t seem right, but I only have experience with my husband’s hsa and his employer let’s us keep all the money in that account. What you can do is take the hsa with the lower monthly payment, and pay any medical payments above what the employer puts in the hsa out of your own pocket until you get a feel for how much you’ll need to contribute. That out of pocket money won’t be tax exempt, but you also may never use any of your own money so the tax issue becomes moot. But I’d be willing to bet that you’ll never pay more out of pocket in a month than you would pay for the ppo.

    • Reply Ashley |

      That’s a good idea! We’re a generally healthy family. Only normal preventative/annual check-up type appointments for the adults and the kids have each had only 1 doctors’ appointment for a sick-visit (both times with an ear infection, so reasonably routine). Since we’ve never paid out of pocket before I don’t know how much the full cost of the appointment generally runs, but with $120/month being contributed by the employer, I’d likely be able to simply use those funds (and, as you suggest, cover any overage out of pocket)

  • Reply Ashley |

    Definitely do it over email. Check out askamanager.com. She has lots of advice regarding salary negotiations that will help you with the wording.

  • Reply nsheils |

    Are you sure it’s an HSA and not an FSA? FSAs don’t roll over, but HSAs do and are actually really handy for extra tax advantaged retirement savings.

    • Reply Ashley |

      I just double-checked and its definitely an HSA. Do you think this would be worth contacting HR about to try to verify the information about forfeiting unused funds?

      • Reply Liz |

        Absolutely- I have both an HSA that rolls over and a limited purpose FSA (vision anddental) which doesn’t. Definitely clarify with their benefits people to make sure you maximize the tax exemptions.

        • Reply Sarah |

          I wonder if you lose the $120 per month that the employer contributes but you get to keep your share that you contribute. Definitely worth asking about!

          • Ashley |

            I’m planning to call today because I’ve been doing a lot of digging on the HR website and have found some contradictory info. Not only about this “forfeiting money” issue, but also about contributions! I saw in one place the $120/month university contribution, but in another place it says there’s a $58/paycheck STATE contribution. I’m wondering if that’s supposed to be the same thing (since there’s 2 paychecks per month, the dollar amount is pretty close). But one place it says its a contribution by the state, and the other place says contribution by the university. Seems too good to be true to get BOTH contributions. Definitely need some clarification.

  • Reply Maureen |

    I know it’s more money per month and has a deductible, but I would opt for the PPO. Hubby had a mysterious illness and is self-employed in a line of work that could be more injury prone to accidents. You have two small children who will no be attending preschool full time (more chance of illness, accidents, etc.). I know it’s more out of pocket, but hands down I vote for a PPO. I can see how I want, when I want.

    The dental is probably a wash and very similar to a corporate plan that I have. That is about the norm these days. My husband needed a root canal and crown earlier this year and after the insurance maxed out we still ended up with $1700 OPP. Argh!

    I think it is fair to as for a little bit more in salary, but do it via e-mail and (obviously) preface it with you are very excited to join the team, but after reviewing the comp plan you feel you need X more to make it work. See what the response is.

    • Reply Ashley |

      That’s a good point about the PPO benefits. One thing I did think of, though, is that our current coverage has a $10,000/person out-of-pocket max (which we hit during hubs’ mystery illness). With the HSA, it’s a $2500 deductible, but then a $4,000/person out-of-pocket max, so if something catastrophic occurred we’d actually be saving money with the HSA. However, that doesn’t account for the other things you mentioned (e.g., hubs’ line of work being more injury prone – which, indeed, he’s had to get stitches 3 times in the past 5 years).
      One more thing – would you actually ask for a set amount (like “I need X more to make it work”) or would it be better to leave it vague and up to them (like “I need [an ambiguous amount] more”)??

      • Reply Maureen |

        Set amount or vague? That is a tough one. Because you threw out the number first last time, I think it might be better to vague and hope they up it several thousand dollars. If you really want a set amount-e.g. $4K then maybe ask for $6K and see what they say. I think you can justify it with added daycare costs, healthcare, etc. They want you and need you. Be smart, but not greedy (not that you would be).

      • Reply Julene |

        I have another thought on the PPO vs the HSA. My daughter has Tourette syndrome and we have quite a few visits. My other daughter has suffered from a “mystery illness” the past 2 years. The visits and tests have been many and with large dollar amounts. If we had been on the PPO plan, we would be hit so hard by the copays and the 20% of the major things like MRIs, etc. As it is, we opted to take a high deductible plan which, in our case, has a much smaller premium and a contribution to a savings plan similar to the HSA you describe. We don’t pay copays. We do pay our costs upfront in the beginning of the year but then don’t have any expenses the rest of the year. It has been the right choice for us and even if we had a great year as far as medical goes it will still be good because we would have extra money from premiums not paid and the medical savings account.

        Some math to look at: by choosing the HSA option, you will save $3516 in premiums per year vs the PPO plan, “someone” contributes the $120/mo into the HSA so there’s another $1440 you have to pay the extra $1500 in deductible and use the rest towards the out-of-pocket max. I would check what the family oopm (out-of-pocket-max) is, our per person is $3,000 with a $6,000 family oopm. But that said, in worst case years you will meet your oopm and be free after that. In good years, you’ll have $4956 to use for deductibles and oopm expenses. Most years you won’t need that would imagine.

        I have run many scenarios as have many others at our office and we can’t make the PPO come out on top. Especially with that kind of savings.

  • Reply shana |

    That’s not how an HSA works so you might want to review the benefits. The HSA money is yours and cannot be pulled from the account. Only FSA plans like the childcare one have the provision that any money you don’t use gets returned to the company. In contrast, you can leave money in your HSA for ages and invest it within the HSA once you have some preset amount. Anything you put in is tax free (in most states), it grows tax free, and you can take it out tax free for health expenses if you are under 65 or for any reason once you hit 65.

    When choosing between the two plans, think about how likely you are to need care and how much you have in disposable income to spend (excluding preventive visits). So in an average year, do you typically have 3 doctor visits for your family and maybe 1 prescription. If so that would cost maybe $400/yr through the HSA plan making it worth it. If you have 10 visits and 3 presscriptions, the math is less favorable for the HSA. The hardest part is trying to predict what care you’ll need in the upcoming year.

    • Reply Ashley |

      It’s definitely tough to try to predict the care amount. Especially since I’ve really never seen any doctors’ bills before since it’s always just been billed to insurance (meaning – i have no idea what a typical doctors visit costs!)
      Someone else said the same thing about HSA vs FSA. I double-checked my materials and it definitely says HSA. I’m assuming this means there might be a mistake in the literature (and that I should contact HR for clarification?)???

  • Reply TENN |

    I agree with nhsheils – that sounds like a flexible savings account, not a health savings account. The odd thing is that the low premium and the high deductible indicate that this should be a health savings account (HSA). HSAs stay with you for life. If you put in $100 per month, you would have $1200 from you and $1440 from your employer, which would cover the deductible. Is the deductible for each individual or for family as a whole.

    Be careful about dropping the dental in a month or two. Generally plans only allow you to make changes during open enrollment and for a qualifying life experience (loss of coverage, marriage, birth, etc.).

    • Reply Ashley |

      That’s a good point about dropping the dental. Is open enrollment only when you’re first hired? I think I remember in the back of my mind hearing that there was an open enrollment period annually but maybe I’m making that up?? I KNOW it will be a HUGE benefit once the girls are old enough to need orthodontics. But I just don’t know that it’d be worth it to keep paying the monthly premium for the several years in-between now and then.

      • Reply Liz |

        There is an annual open enrollment period (varies by employer, often tied to fiscal or calendar year changes) and then other qualifying life events will allow you to make changes, as noted above.

        I’m going to be honest- I think we’re about the same age, both live in the US healthcare system and it scares me that you don’t know some of these basics and can’t figure out how much you spent on healthcare… you should have EOBs through your current insurer that you can check to determine the cost of treatment (roughly) for an estimate at what you should save for your HSA. Spend some time digging in and then do the math. It may be better to split you and your husband onto separate plans, for example, and then keep the girls on yours, depending where you are currently with your deductibles, etc. When my husband changed jobs, it was more cost effective in the long run to keep him on my plan for the remainder of the year, but we’ll reevaluate again during open enrollment.

        Also, you may be ineligible for your current plan once you have employer-sponsored insurance available to you. You should research that too, as it depends on state law and how the insurance was acquired (through an exchange, for example).

  • Reply TENN |

    One other option is to fund the HSA for the difference in price between the PPO and HSA. This would more than fund the deductible and give you a nest egg for the next year. Keep in mind that dental and vision work, including glasses can be funded using the HSA. They wouldn’t count towards the deductible, but they would be tax free.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Wow, thanks for the tip! I knew you could use it for prescriptions and even over-the-counter meds but for some reason I wasn’t even thinking about glasses/contacts, etc.

    • Reply Julene |

      Ours also covers mileage to and from appointments, tolls and parking fees as well as hotel stays if it is in another city and you need to travel. Some allow you to reimburse for vitamins, first aid care, etc. so you should read the fine print on what is allowed.

  • Reply AY |

    Congrats!!! So exciting to get an actual offer! I’m dying to know your income and how much this will help toward debt payments (but totally understand why you’re holding off on sharing). Hoping the next round of negotiations go well and excited for you! Also once the offer is finalized would love a refresher on which job this is–is it the online course design one that your friend told you about? Congrats again, you deserve it!!!

    • Reply Ashley |

      Thanks! Yes, it’s a mixture of actual teaching and coordination of a new online program the department is launching this Fall (the plan is to have a fully online complete bachelors program in 2-5 years). I’m sure I’ll definitely talk more about it as time moves on.
      In regard to the income, I’m still super unsure. I’ll be getting a lot of tax benefits (e.g., like the $5,000 pre-tax toward childcare, possible HSA also funded with pre-tax dollars, and a 401(k) funded with pre-tax dollars). But once subtracting all this money (for childcare, retirement, HSA), I think I’ll be making just a little over my current pay. Though the big benefit is that I’ll already have taxes taken out (so hopefully no huge tax bill next year like we had this year), and we’ll have fewer expenses in the monthly budget since the health/benefits will be taken directly from my paycheck. So the money I do receive will stretch farther since we won’t have so many bills on the outgoing side. ALSO, my current plan is to keep my online teaching job, too, which will make a big difference in terms of income. I’m not sure the longevity of it (I may find after a semester or two that it’s too time-consuming and difficult to do both), but at least initially it will really help to buffer out income quite a bit.

  • Reply Kay |

    Also, consider what is covered after the deductible is met for the hsa plan. With ours, everything is 80%-20% after the deductible. I’m not sure if that’s standard, but still paying 20% can add up.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Ours is 10% after deductible. I think it can vary. I did some reading about it and saw that some plans do an 80-20 after the deductible, but some are 100% free after the deductible is met. So I guess ours is middle-ground at 10% (and a $4,000 out of pocket max)

  • Reply Maria |

    FSAs and HSAs are creations of the federal tax code and, as some of your commenters have already noted, employers have to follow the rules when they offer them. The money in an FSA must be used up 90 days after the end of the calendar year or it goes to the Treasury in the form of a penalty; the money in an HSA is your property and, if family members are healthy, as the balance grows it can become another source of tax advantaged savings as you age. I think you need to contact human resources and get some clarification. HSAs can ONLY be offered in connection with a high deductible account; FSAs are typically connected to more conventional forms of insurance like PPOs.

  • Reply TENN |

    I would contact HR about the HSA versus the FSA.

    Open enrollment generally happens once per year, but it can also happen when a qualifying life change happens. Most, but not all companies use the calendar year. My company has a July 1 – June 30 fiscal year. This means our open enrollment just ended for changes to begin in the new fiscal year. A life change can include that you no longer have health insurance. Check with HR to see if you can change into their plan once your current plan ends in December.

  • Reply TENN |

    Sorry for the multiple posts. Keep in mind that annual visits are covered by the plan and would have no costs out of pocket. This is per the health care reform.

    It is very difficult to compare plans. I was just married. My spouse and I both have good coverage through our employers; so we would trying to figure out the best value and there was no clear cut answer. We ended up switching to a family plan, but we may find that the individual plans were the way to go and switch him back during his open enrollment.

  • Reply Jean |

    I believe this is the first year you can carry over $500 to the next year in FSA because of the health care act — might want to check with HR on that too(HR calls ours a Flex 125 account)

    Congrats on the new job!

  • Reply Louise |

    I would definitely write back and negotiate. I’ve seen my father do it many times, although with smaller institutions. Usually in his case the benefits were more negotiable than the salary – for example, once he got his rent as a packaged benefit which saved him a lot of tax and meant the money in his pocket went up but the institution paid the same. I don’t know what the US laws are regarding universities so perhaps this isn’t possible where you are and asking for the salary to go up is your only option. Anyway I would be very disappointed with those health care options and totally ask for more money to help cope.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Yeah, the benefits are set by the university and are the same for every employee on the same level (e.g., it’s different between staff and faculty, but every single faculty member has an identical package), so the only room for negotiation is on the salary side.

  • Reply Laura |

    Are the insurance benefits costs for just you or the whole family? If it’s the whole family I actually don’t think the costs are that bad. Not that great but I’ve seen worse. At my job insurance premiums for myself and kids are pretty cheap but to add a spouse costs almost 4x as much so if that includes your husband it’s not so bad.
    As far as has and ppos go. If you don’t use your health insurance much the hsa might be the way to go. Especially if the employer contributes $120 a month to it, if you tend to only do regular checkups throughout the year that might cover most of your expenses.

  • Reply Laura |

    One more thought on the dental plan – check the fine print. Mine has a clause that they only cover orthodontia work after you have had the plan for a year. So you can’t just sign up when you find out you need work done.

  • Reply debtor |

    people have echoed this but worth repeating.
    I work in tax and can tell you that if it’s an HSA the money is yours to keep. I’m not too sure if the company is saying maybe they will take back their employer contributed amount – that may be possible but i’d have to go read the code again (however, i’ve never heard of it before).

    regarding the HSA – that really varies…I use it because i never got to the hospital…and figure if i ever have to it will be for something major – and by then i’ld have the deductible amount saved up so it’d be a wash (mine covers 100% after deductible). but if you go to the dr frequently but not enough to hit the deductible, the pop might be better for you. Hopefully you have enough data over the past couple of years to decide.

    Oh, and CONGRATULATIONS!

  • Reply T'Pol |

    Congratulations! I have no idea about those health insurance options so, I am sorry to be of no help there. I think you can definitely re-negotiate but as a foreigner I do not think it is my place to suggest the correct wording. The only thing I would recommend is that not to use the word “disappointed”. May be after sincerely thanking them for the opportunity and expressing my enthusiasm for working with them, I would have told them; After reviewing the package, I felt that as a family we might need a different healthcare package and since there are none available, would you please consider increasing the salary offer by X%? But, then again, English is not my native language and coming from a different culture, I am not sure…

  • Reply Juhli |

    I would be careful about asking for more money as salary. You gave them a number and they met it. Do some serious calculations re the benefits (Childcare, their health insurance contribution, 401K, etc.) and come up with your actual income. I would also seriously consider the PPO. You seem to be mostly thinking about routine healthcare costs but insurance is there to cover the major/catastrophic costs such as serious injury or illness. Hospitalization is vastly expensive if not covered by insurance. BTW, we pay $427 a month for PPO insurance for just my husband and I under a federal employee plan so I think the amount for 4 people is quite a bargain.

    • Reply Ashley |

      I actually thought about that (catastrophic events), and I think the HSA would actually save us money. When hubs had his medical issue we hit our out-of-pocket max ($10,000). With the HSA, we have the $2,500 deductible, but the out-of-pocket max is $4,000 so we’d actually be coming out ahead!

      • Reply Julene |

        The major medical is a lot of the times when the large deductible plan saves you the most. Most PPOs have a 20% of major medical clause so you still pay out in these high cost events. The HSA option maxes out sooner and stops you having to pay copays and other expenses.

  • Reply SAK |

    Contact HR for a better understanding of the medical HSA – you shouldn’t be losing any money at all. Also, can you change your elections (PPO vs HSA, dental yes or no) each year during open season – usually at the end of the calendar or fiscal year? If so, you might consider starting with one set of options and then adjusting – especially if you can try now and switch starting in say January. Personally, I’d skip the dental and save that amount of money every month. Dental insurance is often very expensive and not worth the cost unless you *know* you are doing things they cover. That answer may change as the girls get over. In terms of negotiating more – just say benefits were less than expected and you would like X to make up the difference. The advantage you have is that you are not easily replaceable (vs say a more entry level teaching position that didn’t require the extra skills experience).

  • Reply Danielle |

    I had an HSA with employer contributions and I’m not sure why they’re saying they take the amount — It’s always been my understanding that once that money is given to you by your employer, it’s yours. I had a HDHP with an HSA and an employer contribution of $312.50/quarter. I haven’t had it for over a year (switched employers) and still have $1000 in it.

    I built up the balance by contributing the difference b/t the HSA and the PPO. in my state, this money is also taken out pre-tax, so I saved on state and federal taxes. It’s valid for you OR any member of your family, even if they aren’t on your health plan. We paid for my husband’s LASIK with my HSA.

    Also — You can use your HSA to pay for dental work. It won’t go towards the deductible, but it’s an eligible expense. So maybe electing out of the dental and putting the $105/mo towards your HSA would work better for you? Contact solution is also a valid HSA expense.

    As another commenter noted, you can probably pull up your EOBs from your current health insurance online. You’ll see what the insurance-negotiated price is. THIS is the price you pay with an HSA, not the “sticker price.” They vary from insurer to insurer but that will give you a good idea of what the insurance cost is.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Thanks so much for all the detailed information!!! I really appreciate it!

      • Reply Danielle |

        Also, if you have a large bill, you can call billing and ask for a discount for paying in cash – a lot of times they’ll chop it for you further, and as far as your insurance company knows, you’ve paid the full insurance-negotiated amount.

  • Reply Carrie |

    My husband switched jobs 3 years ago. He negotiated a salary. He was then provided the benefits package only to find out they were higher than his current company. He went back to offering company and requested more salary due to higher benefits cost. He asked for $5k more a year to make up difference. The new company met his increased salary request.

    • Reply Ashley |

      This is fantastic news! I hope the same happens for me! I’ve been playing phone tag with people today (I want to talk to HR and the departmental secretary first to clarify a couple things), so I’m holding off on any additional negotiations until I fully understand all parts of the offer and know exactly what I want to ask for (e.g., there are also a couple wording things – not even related to salary/money – that I want changed). Hopefully I’ll have good news to report when I blog again on Thursday!

  • Reply Juju |

    I work in HR and yes your HSA stays with you and the FSA is the one that you need to use within a year or lose. I prefer the HSA because you can earn interest and invest like a 401k after you reach a certain limit in your HSA bank (ours is $2000). The funds can be used for you and your dependents that you file on your taxes (even if they are not in your HSA plan). However, if you are someone that uses prescriptions or go to the doctors frequently for a condition, I would not recommend an HSA.

    • Reply Ashley |

      My only regular/recurring prescription is considered preventative (birth control) – that’s still covered for free as a preventative expense I believe, right?

  • Reply Angie |

    HSA’s are awesome and pretty much the only good thing about our declining healthcare system.

    Don’t forget you can use the HSA for dental expenses! Knowing that your husband needs a lot of work there will be a lot of tax savings.

    Some other facts about HSA’s:
    -HSA’s are the only deduction that skips FICA – Thats a 7.6% bonus right there not counting federal and state tax savings.
    – If you choose to only have the health plan cover yourself (say if private insurance is cheaper for hubs and kids) you can still use the HSA funds to pay for their care even if they aren’t on the qualifying insurance.
    -The money carries over indefinitely. So I would plan to max it out every single year. In the off chance you make it to retirement age with some money left you can rollover the amount to an IRA I believe. – You can invest the money in an index fund in your HSA to allow the account to continue to grow. with the stock market.
    – As long as you have a receipt, you can withdraw from the HSA to cover it at any time. So, let’s say you have a $100 health expense. You can choose to withdraw that money now to reimburse yourself. Even better though, if you have the money for it, you pay the $100 out of pocket and keep the receipt. Let the money in your account grow invested in the stock market. 5 years from now say you have an emergency. You can withdraw the $100 then with no penalty plus you get to keep the interest/gains that $100 made in 5 years.

    Congrats!!!

  • Reply Jason |

    I’ve worked in the pharmaceutical industry for quite a while, and I can say that the benefits you are being offered seem fairly standard/above average. The HSA based health plans are where pharma are going (and pharma is notorious for having very generous benefits). In fact, my company gives the money up front. The HSA contributions the company will make are yours once they hit your account, and depending on who the HSA manager is, they should issue you a debit card to make using easy.

    Dental benefits are also standard based on what I’ve seen, and the monthly costs are reasonable. the key is that your dentist will know exactly what is covered, and unless you need an extraction/crown or implant, $2K year will cover all preventative work and fillings. Keep in mind that orthodontia usually has a lifetime limit, and figure ~$6K per child (well, at least that is the going rate in the northeast.

    You will 100% not be able to drop any benefit unless you have a qualifying event as others describe, so double check your enrollment carefully. You will need to enroll within a set period of joining the University, typically 30 days, then will have an approximately 10 day open enrollment period in late fall (usually November) to make selections for 2016. The key is to assess what your historic medical uses have been. If they likely add up to less than the deductible for the HSA, go with the PPO. If you have recurring expenses to insure you hit the deductible, then the HSA might be better.

So, what do you think ?