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I'm graduating college in May and will be joining a technology start-up in San Francisco afterwards. One of the benefits that this start-up provides is a health care plan, which I don't need because I'm covered by law under my parent's insurance until I'm 26.

Is it appropriate to try and ask for a higher salary, given that I won't be needing a healthcare plan? If so, how do I go broaching this topic?

Edit: Opting out of my parent's plan doesn't save them any money, and I'm also 5 years away from needing a plan of my own.

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    You want the healthcare. Trust me on this.
    – Makoto
    Dec 13 '16 at 19:00
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    In a year or two when you need it because you can't be on your parent's any more, are you okay with them lowering your salary?
    – mikeazo
    Dec 13 '16 at 19:10
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    Something else to keep in mind, do the doctors and hospitals in SF take your parent's insurance?
    – mikeazo
    Dec 13 '16 at 19:10
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    Grow up and take the health care. Then you can come off your parents insurance, and they'll pay less (assuming you're the only child on the policy).
    – PeteCon
    Dec 13 '16 at 20:56
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    Don't count on that law that lets you stay on your parents insurance to still be there either. That is one of the things that goes away of teh repeal Obamacare.
    – HLGEM
    Dec 13 '16 at 21:31
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Agreeing with @JakeGould and would add a few points:

  1. The fact you are on your parents' insurance does not mean you don't need your new employer's plan. Every insurance plan is different, with different in-network mix of providers (doctors), different copays for various services (e.g. for emergency room visit), different out-of-pocket maximums, etc.

  2. The fact that you are on your parents' plan probably means they are paying extra for it. All the while you are a legal adult and should (morally and practically) take care of yourself, especially since you clearly have the capacity for that. So the fact that someone supports you now is not a justification for letting them continue doing so. Even if it costs them no additional money. Plus, you might as well start dealing with your own health insurance, figure out plan options, enrollment paperwork, and see how it impacts your budget before you turn 26 and have to do all this anyway.

  3. Asking for higher salary in lieu of health insurance won't work, since companies do not want the added headache and overhead of keeping track of who signed up and who opted out. This is sometimes possible with some employers, but I would guess that by default, a company would want to administer its health insurance in the most straightforward way possible, which is giving it to everyone and not having to deal with employees changing their mind next month, etc.

  4. In your future jobs (since it is highly unlikely you will be at this startup forever) you will need to bring evidence to the salary negotiating table which does not include swaps with other benefits. At least in the U.S., to my knowledge it's just not done that way, and larger employers with highly structured hiring and negotiating processes will probably find the idea weird at best. Again, your best bet here is to find other reasons (if any) why you deserve a higher salary, which have to do with your competence and skills to do the job, or market conditions (market comparison, special achievements/past experience, etc.) rather than benefits. Hope this helps. Good luck!

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  • "Even if it costs them no additional money." - Why this? If he can get something "for free" (that is, it is already paid for anyway), why to pay for it? Like, again? This would only meant that his parents actually continue to pay for his insurance (their price included children, and won't drop, right?), he just isn't getting it. What's moral about that? You got my upvote because I agree with majority of your post, but I seriously doubt this particular point.
    – Mołot
    Dec 14 '16 at 8:35
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To answer the question: YES -- Its certainly appropriate to ask, but I doubt that it will happen.

Part of the employee benefit package typically is health insurance, time off, etc. For a single person of your age, its cheap anyway.

Also, how far are you from 26? If its a few years it would be worth it, but if not I would not bother. I would suggest unless its really stupid expensive to take the coverage the employer offers and save your parents some dough.

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  • +1 - I know of know company (without a cafeteria benefits plan) that will let you trade benefits for salary this way. Dec 13 '16 at 21:15
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Shorter answer: The chances of you getting salary equivalent of benefits you reject are slim to none at best. Some companies out there might decide to give you a token amount in your paycheck if you opt out of benefits, but don’t expect that to make a significant dent in your overall compensation.

Benefits might be portrayed as some dollar equivalent bundled in with compensation by human resources (or a recruiter or someone else on staff) but the reality is benefits are not some magical coupon that can be exchanged for compensation just because you don’t need the benefits.

Longer answer: You say this; bold emphasis is mine:

One of the benefits that this start-up provides is a health care plan, which I don't need because I'm covered by law under my parent's insurance until I'm 26.

This “benefit” is not unique to the startup or any startup or any company for that matter that has full time staff. Health care (aka: health insurance) is a common benefit most any company offer full time—and some part-time staff—as part of a standard package offered to employees.

So this is not special.

That said, I believe I understand why you believe you can somehow negotiate the value of such a plan with your overall compensation: Many human resources departments—or people acting as such in a small company—will often tag a raw dollar “value” to benefits like this to make it seem like your compensation is tons more than it is.

So—for arguments sake—someone in the company will tell you that you are going to be hired at a salary of $90,000 (for example) but the benefits are “so amazing” that they add up to $20,000-$30,000 on top of your base compensation… So it’s like you are getting paid $110,000 to $120,000 and isn’t that “Amazing™!”

This is “truthiness” at it’s best: Yes, those benefits might add up to an equivalent of $20,000-$30,000 if you were to purchase and use similar services on your own, but—as you point out—you might not ever need those things so the net value is $0 to you.

Everyone knows that is the deal, but the nature of group benefits like this prevents any one-to-one equivalent in negotiating that discounted value with a raw dollar figure.

Meaning, utterly no company in the world will ever say, “Okay this new hire doesn’t need insurance so let’s just give them the dollar difference in their gross salary.” If anything you even asking a question like this might make the company think you are simply naive and that might negatively impact your ability to be hired by the company.

That said, even if your parents have coverage my advice to you is to only fall back to that if you have no choice. If you are an adult and are being offered a real job at a real company, it’s time to be a part of the real world and be independent.

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    My company allows us to opt out, and up through the end of this year, gave us $100 a month in extra compensation. So even if you do opt out, it might not be near as much as you expect. Dec 13 '16 at 21:20
  • @thursdaysgeek Good point. Adjusted my answer to reflect this. Dec 13 '16 at 23:52
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It never hurts to ask, but prepare to be told no. I have been covered by my wife's plan for years and have asked this with every new job. It has yet to get me any benefit.

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Just to add to the other here because there is some misinformation. (Assuming you are in the US)

Everyone here is wrong about getting your own - just because. If your parents are already buying a family plan, and you new employer does not cover 100% of the cost (Meaning you will have to contribute a few $100 a month) THERE IS NO REASON TO WASTE THAT MONEY.

If you parents have to drop you for any reason you can signup up with your employer immediately as this is considered a Life changing event

If you have such Life changing event and your employer offers health benefits they are not legally allowed to turn you down, Regardless of what you negotiated - cutting your salary may be viewed as illegally. The law is the a company cannot selectively offer some employees health and not others.

Personally I believe negotiation on this is futile, because it's illegal agreement. You are better off just saying "I am worth more"

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