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Understanding Your Benefits - part 1

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics states that an employee’s benefit package makes up about 30% of their total compensation. Read that again… 30%! So when you are negotiating your salary, don’t forget to factor in the perks and benefits that come along with it. Not sure exactly what some of the benefits are, or better yet, not sure how they benefit you? Read on for Part 1 of a five-part series that will dissect the most common employee perks and benefits and how to make the best choice.


Health insurance is the most common and probably one of the most important benefits an employer can offer. It pays for your doctor visits, prescription drugs, as well as certain medical procedures.

Be sure to take your time when reviewing your options. Ask these questions:

  • Does my employer pay the premium in full, in part or not at all? If in part, what is my responsibility?

  • What are my out-of-pocket expenses, such as copays and deductibles?

  • Is my doctor in the plan’s network?

  • Are my medical conditions and/or medications covered?

  • Are my dependents (children, partner) covered? If so, how much does it cost?

Not sure what all those health insurance terms mean? The BLS offers a glossary here.

Flexible Spending Account

A flexible spending account (aka FSA) helps with those out-of-pocket costs by allowing you to put money aside out of each paycheck. You can use your FSA to pay for things like your copays, medicine, glasses, or contacts, as well as a slew of other things. Some employers will contribute, some won’t, so make sure you check into it.

In Part 2, we'll take a closer look at life insurance, disability insurance and your 401K. In the meantime, before you accept that job offer, be sure to review the company’s benefits, ask lots of questions, and most importantly, make sure they align with your needs.

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