I'm a new permanent resident of the United States living in California. I'm originally from a country that has universal healthcare where I didn't have to worry about health insurance because it was free. I needed it when I was unemployed.

Now that I'm living in the United States, I'm looking for a well-paying job in the IT industry and I have no idea what I should be asking a potential employer about healthcare. Health care seems insane in this country. Can any American from California give me some idea? Thanks a lot!

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    It was in my country. – Arnaldo Montoya Aug 25 '17 at 4:12
  • Did you pay taxes? – paparazzo Aug 25 '17 at 4:26
  • Not while I was unemployed. – Arnaldo Montoya Aug 25 '17 at 4:27
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    It may be worth you looking at ExPats Stack Exchange - this seems like the sort of thing that is on topic there. – Rory Alsop Aug 25 '17 at 6:58
  • Wait til you get the offer and then ask to see the benefits package before accepting the offer. Larger companies will have better plans and cheaper costs in general. I just moved from a billion dollar company to a medium sized one and my health care benefits for a worse plan went up from $35 a month to $135 every two weeks (family plans are much more expensive, so be prepared!). Make sure to consider these costs in determining salary. A smaller company may have to offer more in salary to make up for poorer benefits. And yes health care is insane in this country. – HLGEM Aug 25 '17 at 14:40

Most employers will have at least an overview of their benefits on the 'careers' section of their website (if they have one). Additionally, they'll almost always have a discussion of benefits (including healthcare) either with an actual HR person, or with the hiring manager. If they do, feel free to ask for more information about how the healthcare works if you don't understand the benefit.

This is likewise a great topic when they do the normal "do you have any questions for me?" bit at the end. "Hey, I'm new to the US and so I'm curious how your healthcare works in this company." is perfectly fine.

I would suggest that before you go in, you do some of your own research so that you understand the basics like HMO, PPO, etc. Generally, most plans will involve some portion of your paycheck (before taxes) going to healthcare, and some portion of said fee also paid by the company. Typically the things that vary are things like how much co-pay you owe on a visit (i.e. out of pocket; it's normally a flat fee like $20 or $30), if there is a deductible (and how much it is if so), caps on various services per year, and so on. So a little research in advance to be able to ask intelligent questions. Also, you normally can change your options each year, so decisions are not irrevocable.

  • Thank you for your answer. How do I pose a question like "How much will my premium and co-pay be?" in the interview? Who would I ask? Would it be the person who is hiring me? – Arnaldo Montoya Aug 25 '17 at 5:09
  • The easiest way to do that is if there's an HR person that's part of the interview process. That's common in most larger companies; smaller ones ymmv. If you get one, just ask them exactly that, or say, "Can I see the healthcare benefits options with costs?". If you don't get an HR interviewer, then the hiring manager would be the next best bet, and same question. – Paul Aug 25 '17 at 5:11
  • @ArnaldoMontoya, Ask the HR person, that's their job to know this stuff. The hiring manager may know about his own premiums and co-pay, but if he has a family and you don't or if he chose a different plan, the amounts may not be the same, so chances are, he'll probably just tell you to contact the HR person anyway. Also, go on sites like glassdoor, employee reviews often talk about the level of benefits, if it's good or bad. – Stephan Branczyk Aug 25 '17 at 5:18
  • Do the costs vary from person to person or do they tend to be standard? Everyone pays $x ? Would they give a folder with all of this information in it in the interview? – Arnaldo Montoya Aug 25 '17 at 5:20
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    @ArnoldoMontoya each company makes that decision for themselves. They normally just tell you how much you'll pay; their cut is normally based on available budget. – Paul Aug 25 '17 at 5:39

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