Tackling your employee benefits and perks


Health insurance is a very big topic for the 30-something clientele Roberge at Beyond Your Hammock serves. The questions he asks include:

  • Have the premiums or coverage changed?
  • Should you switch to a high-deductible plan?
  • If you use a health savings account, does the company contribute to it, too?

Roberge finds that clients often don’t understand the value of using a high-deductible plan with a health savings account option.

Financial advice benefits

According to a 2017 study from the Society for Human Resource Management, 49 percent of employers surveyed offered some kind of financial advice. Breaking it down further, 36 percent offered this advice via an online setting; 34 percent one on one; and 28 percent in a group setting.

“The premium gets significantly lower, but they tend to be afraid of the high deductible,” he said. “They assume they’ll have to pay the whole deductible, but in reality — with the built-in savings from premium alone and if the employer contributes to the HSA — even if they paid more out of pocket, they’d pay the same amount as the higher-premium/lower-deductible plan.”

In addition, HSAs offer tax-advantaged ways to pay out-of-pocket health-care expenses now and in the future, said Levi Brandriss, CFP with Ameriprise Financial, adding that money set aside in an HSA can be carried forward indefinitely to meet out-of-pocket expenses down the road.

“If you foresee a major health-care expense next year that is not covered by your insurance, such as braces for a child, consider electing an option with a flexible spending account,” he said. “Money deferred in this account is deducted from your paycheck before taxes and must be used before the end of the year, unless your employer plan allows money to be carried over year-to-year.”

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