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celia

"full" Cafeteria Plans

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When I worked in private industry, my company had a "full" cafeteria plan in which each employee was alloted a fixed amount of money. Each employee could specify which benefits (s)he wanted to "buy" with the employer's money. The menu included:

 

disability insurance (mandatory)

medical insurance (mandatory unless you were on a spouse's plan)

dental

vision

life insurance

401k (comparable to 403b/457) investments

medical reimbursement

dependent care reimbursement

 

Other benefits could be on the menu depending on the company offerings. The way it worked is that you selected the benefits you wanted and they would be paid for with pre-tax money. If your choices cost more than the allotment, extra was withheld from your pay. If your choices cost less, you would receive more in pay. Your pay was taxable except for the menu choices that were paid with pre-tax dollars.

 

I work for a school district now and all we are offered is the medical and dependent care reimbursement that is withheld from our paychecks. The other benefits are fixed whether we want them or not. Because of upcoming fiscal problems at the state (California) level which will impact the school districts, I would like to see the flexibility in having the employees specify their choices. This would allow the district to cap their spending on benefits while allowing the employees to select the benefits they most want. If an employee wants everything, have them "pay" for it. If employees have both spouses in a family work for the district, why have dual medical coverages? Allow one of them to put the money in their retirement plan.

 

I would like to propose that my district offer the full package but have been unable to find other school districts that offer it as an example. Is there a reason why? Do you know of any districts that do? (if you don't want to list a school district name, please tell the county and state)

 

I know that the full plan is available to some city agencies, so it is not a matter of working for a non-profit. I wonder if the requirement applies that says employees from all pay grades need to participate, so that the plan doesn't just benefit the higher salaried people. If that is the case, that would explain why school districts don't participate--they tend to have many part-time teacher aides, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, etc who may not be interested in "purchasing" benefits when they have a lower income.

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Thanks for your good suggestion. I didn't know about that web site.

 

Another reason benefits are the way they are at school districts is because the unions bargained for them. I will see if our unions would support this. But if there is some reason we are not eligible, I didn't want to waste their time and that of the administration.

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Celia --

 

Here in WA (in the districts in which I have worked, anyway) medical, dental and sometimes vision are mandantory for teachers unless you opt out because of a spouse's plans or something. Cafeteria plans are offered for medical reimbursement, dependent care and so on.

 

All these benefits tend to be negotiated between the bargaining unit and the district.

 

JudyS

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