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Friday, 27 November 2015

Employer Health Benefits

One nice aspect of working for an 'international' company that has its HQ in the US is that their standard 'benefits' package for staff includes medical coverage (which is essential in the US, but not so much here in Australia due to universal public health coverage via Medicare). Now that the 'integration' phase has been completed, we are moving to new employment contracts from 1 Jan, and our new opt-in 'Health Plan' becomes available from 1 Jan also.

The Health Plan is a quite generous scheme offering 'top' private hospital insurance as well as a suite of 'extras' cover (such as dental, optical, physio etc.) with most basic options available from 1 Jan and some of the others (such as physio) having a 12 month 'waiting period' unless you are transferring in from another existing health plan.

The company will be fully funding the standard cost of the plan (at lesast for those within the 'base tier' of taxable income -- under $90,000pa for singles or $180,000pa for families, and in cases where there is no 'Lifetime Health Cover loading'). Unfortunately, while we are likely to be well within the 'base tier' in terms of family income (as DW only works 3 days per week), we haven't had any health insurance since 2008, so we currently have a LHC loading of 10%. That will mean our 'out of pocket' premium is estimated to be around $26 per month, which is still excellent value  -- even just by going for routine annual checkups at the dentist we should get back more in benefits than the 'out of pocket' premium cost. Of course our employer will be footing most of the premium (I guess around $200+ per month), so if we had to pay full cost for private health insurance we would probably still continue to rely on Medicare and the public hospital system.

One side benefit of having private health cover under this company plan is that our LHC loading will stay at 10% while we have private hospital insurance, and after ten years the LHC loading will revert to 0%. That could be a major benefit in the long term if we decide to continue with private health insurance after we retire (when we are more likely to need 'elective' surgery such as knee or hip replacements, dentures or hearing aids...). Of course that assumes we stay employed for the next ten years -- one downside of the completion of the 'integration' process is that we have all got new employment contracts that include a clause whereby we can have our employment terminated for 'any reason' with only 4 weeks notice. I suspect if that happens I'd be lodging an 'unfair dismissal' claim though, and might end up with the equivalent of a redundancy payment. It would still not be very nice to find myself unemployed and over 55 though...

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