I interviewed with a company on Friday, at which time they asked for my salary range. I gave them a small range ($90-95k) and on Monday I received an offer for $90,480. They also provided me with all the information regarding benefits. After sifting through it all, it looks like the insurance costs for me and my family that I'd be responsible for will go up dramatically from what I pay now.

Even though they technically offered me a salary within my range, do I still have room to negotiate? My thinking is to stay within my original range (counter with $93.5k), and let them know that I'm asking for slightly more due to higher insurance costs. Thank you!

  • 3
    Were you aware of the insurance cost discrepancy before giving your salary range?
    – user8365
    Apr 14, 2015 at 16:35
  • Nope, had no idea. The HR manager briefly mentioned it AFTER our discussion, and then when I received my actual offer yesterday, I got all the info on costs.
    – kws
    Apr 14, 2015 at 16:41
  • 5
    What's the point of providing a range? What incentive would they have for offering you $94,959 instead of $90,001? Apr 14, 2015 at 19:29
  • @JoelEtherton if you take the range literally, then they would not dare offer $95,000.01. OP would turn it down b/c too much money. But I suppose it could happen. money.cnn.com/2015/04/01/pf/college/stanford-financial-aid A Stanford parent might negotiate a $125,000.00 offer to $124.999.99.
    – emory
    Apr 14, 2015 at 20:58
  • 3
    @JoelEtherton: Fairly simple. You'll accept the lower end of the range if it's justified by other factors (work from home etc)
    – MSalters
    Apr 14, 2015 at 22:37

3 Answers 3


You just learned a very valuable lesson in negotiation: never give a range. If you tell a company "90-95k" all they hear is "candidate will take 90k". You should have just said 95k.

Having said that, you could surely counter, but don't mention that it's because of higher insurance costs. Focus on your skills and what you can offer to the company, because that's all they really care about. At the end of the day, if you're not about to walk away from the job regardless then they have way more negotiating power than you at this point.

Edit: From the resulting comments, it appears that you should mention the insurance issue. That discrepancy could give you a negotiating point. Read below for better info.

  • Thanks, it has been about 9 years since I've had to do this. Luckily, I'm gainfully employed and am not relying on this job. It is more of a "want to have" than "need to have". That said, I'd be happier here so I don't want to botch it. I'm going to counter, and if they say no we're firm, then I may still take it. It would just be much nicer to have more to cover the increased costs.
    – kws
    Apr 14, 2015 at 16:24
  • 1
    Saying you're worth 95K with a minimal insurance cost is the same as saying you're worth 96K if you have to pay an additional $1000 for insurance.
    – user8365
    Apr 14, 2015 at 16:39
  • 18
    No, DO mention the insurance issue. It's reasonable to say "I would have taken $90K if you had a really good insurance scheme, but with the one you have I need more". It's all about total compensation, not just base salary. However in the end you will have to persuade them you ae worth what you want. Apr 14, 2015 at 17:12
  • 2
    DO mention the extra insurance costs. Your initial salary range is based on the assumption that benefits are the same Job to Job. If you have to pay more out of pocket then you are effectively being payed less. Apr 14, 2015 at 19:52
  • 1
    Someone I know received a requested higher salary due to the fact that he defined that amount as necessary to provide for his family. The insurance costs also help in that way, I would most definitely mention it.
    – Luceos
    Apr 14, 2015 at 20:43

When ever I am negotiating for a salary I always use something along the lines of 90-95k Depending on the total package especially if I have not seen the benefits package.

In this case I would mention the reason for the higher number is due to insurance cost differences. It was one of the things you were taking into account to keep up your current life style. Unless you have very pressing reasons to leave your current job (pending layoffs, contract ending, etc.) I would always come back with a counter offer if the total package is not what you were looking for.

Also on a side note, your total loaded cost is roughly 2x your salary so if you are making 90k a year the company is looking at around 180k per year after benefits and taxes etc. since 3.5k is half a percent there are bigger things that they may be worrying about. I would counter at the top of the range (95k) due to the increased insurance costs so there is room to come down if they counter again.

  • The fully-loaded costs are going to depend a lot on one-time items such as initial training and relocation. The recurring loaded cost should be under 1.5x, unless it's a one-person office. Apr 15, 2015 at 20:02
  • @David, Most of the research I see is 1.5-2.5x salary depending a lot on industry and level. Decided to split the difference in my answer and get round numbers. Apr 15, 2015 at 20:08

You can always ask for more.

You may or may not get it.

Negotiation is always a game of incomplete information on both sides.

You don't know:

  • Where the offer lies with respect to the compensation of current employees
  • How this insurance plan rates in the history of the company (for all you know, the insurance planning folks just made a lame insurance deal and the salary folks don't even know how lame it is for the industry)
  • How this offer stacks up compared to the person they hired into this role last week
  • How hard or easy it has been to find candidates

They don't know: - How badly the insurance deal impacts your particular case (nor should they - some of this stuff is medical and they have no right to ask) - How much this improves/harms your overall financial state compared to your current situation - What other offers you may have received

Either side may expose more information for the negotiation, neither side is obligated to. You'll do better in the negotiation the more clear you can be and the more flexible you can be - but that only goes as far as is useful to you.

Mention the insurance shortage if having BETTER insurance would be as (or more) beneficial to you as more salary. If you really don't care about the insurance, you'd rather have the money - then speak in generalities of "total compensation".

Mention other offers of the table if they are actually in hand or 99% likely. Realize that the company may draw a line and say "no" - just because someone else will pay you more doesn't mean this company will pay you more.

You can certainly reiterate why you think you'd be a great asset to the company, but in all honesty, if the company has made the offer, the people who know why a given fact makes you a great asset may be highly separated from the negotiation process. For example, as a hiring manager I frequently say to my recruiter "see if you can get this guy on board for a range between X and Y" - my recruiter tries. If he nails the deal, great. If not he gets a new ball park and we debate - generally the bigger the difference, the more management I have to get on board with why this person is worth it. At that point, if the person is telling the recruiter "did I mention I also know ABC technology and have experience with DEF business skill?" - the information will be lost in transmission as I am trying to say to my management "seriously, Y rate + this much more is what we need to get the right person". And if it's small money then we just close the deal and move on.

What I DO expect is that my recruiter may come to me with creative ways to make a better package - for example, "You said to hire no higher than $91K, this guy wants $93 but it's because he says our insurance is lame. It turns out, we just moved into an HSA program for all new hires, and that means that folks have a much bigger insurance load for families than they used to - I see that current employees will be grandfathered into our old program - I checked with the insurance folks and they found this loop hole - can you do the manager paperwork that makes the loop hole viable for this hire?" - to which my answer is "YES! where do I sign?" or "meh, sounds like hard work, give the guy an extra $2K".

A lot of this, is both corporate structures and also the range of salary difference. It's a fair point that in cases of total compensation, the difference in packages can seriously add up to $10K+ of lost value. While that's true, the negotiation and approval process at $2K is a lot different than $10K+ - so a single insurance package is unlikely to fix the problem... instead if the candidate has a reason, the reason has to be something more like "I have an offer from your competition" or "Did I mention I am also a secret assassin able to solve problems 20 times faster than normal people? ... I didn't put that on my resume, because I didn't realize until recently that you were qualified for receiving the benefits of secret assassins"

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