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What are Healthcare Benefits?

Mary McMahon
Updated: Jan 24, 2024

Healthcare benefits are employee benefits which offer assistance with healthcare costs. They are most commonly seen in the United States, where citizens do not have a national health system to rely upon for healthcare, and therefore employers use healthcare benefits as a perk to attract employees. The type of coverage offered under such benefits varies widely, and for people who are interested in receiving healthcare benefits as part of a compensation package, it is a good idea to research a company's policy on benefits and to talk to existing employees about the company health plan, if possible.

Classically, an employer offers employees some form of group health insurance, or a set amount to spend on healthcare or personal insurance plans each year. Employees may be offered insurance after working for a set period of time, or right away, and the level of coverage is usually linked to employment status, with part time employees receiving fewer benefits. Depending on the company's plan, employees may have to opt into the healthcare plan, paying a small fee while the company pays the bulk of the premium, or the employer may cover all insurance-related costs.

Under group benefits, employees can have access to a variety of healthcare plans, including indemnity plans, under which people pay for services at the time they are rendered, and submit a bill to the insurance company for reimbursement, and managed care plans like health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and preferred provider organizations (PPOs), which provide care through a network of providers.

Standard healthcare benefits just offer basic healthcare. For things like dental and vision care, employees may need to pursue additional insurance plans. The plan may also fail to cover elective surgical procedures, focusing specifically on wellness and emerging conditions, with people paying out of pocket for plastic surgery, fertility treatment, and other types of medical care which are viewed as elective or optional.

Getting medical coverage through a job can save a substantial amount of money, especially in the case of people who are taking care of a family. For this reason, healthcare benefits are often highly sought after, and employers who have a good record of offering such benefits may find that they have a large pool of highly qualified applicants to choose from whenever a job opening arises. People may also integrate benefits into salary negotiations, pushing for better benefits as part of a compensation package before they agree to take a position in a new company.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By mutsy — On Jun 21, 2011

I was wondering, is it ever possible to negotiate for better healthcare benefits with a company? This may be a silly question, but I'm going into my first "grown up" job, and just don't have a lot of experience with these things.

I think that I have some good leverage, because I'm single and don't have any kids, so it would just be me on the policy -- perhaps I can get a better deal that way? Or do you think it would be better to just take what I can get from the company? Any tips would be very welcome.

By comfyshoes — On Jun 20, 2011

@Subway11 - I heard recently that 30% of employers will drop the health care coverage and would offset this by offering a slightly higher compensation.

I think that it sounds fair until you realize that the health insurance quotes are going to go through the roof. Remember health insurance companies now have to cover people with preexisting conditions which are going to really damage the health insurance industry because many of these claims can be catastrophic. I think that the purpose of insurance is to cover you before you get sick not after.

I hope that these things don’t happen because I am uneasy about a single payer system.

By subway11 — On Jun 20, 2011

@Moldova - I think that a lot of companies are going to drop their healthcare insurance benefits for their employees because of the rising costs associated with Obamacare.

Many companies are going to pay the fine and drop the healthcare insurance benefits, so I think that these employees are going to have to find individual health insurance elsewhere.

I think that when this happens it is going to be difficult to find affordable health insurance because the advantage that you have getting the insurance through your employer is that they pay the majority of the premium, but if you have to pay the entire premium it might make private insurance too costly for the average family.

By Moldova — On Jun 17, 2011

I think that medical benefits are more affordable to companies that use a health savings account. With a health savings account you can put pretax dollars into this account to use for checkups and preventative health care. I have a plan like this and I do have a high deductible to meet but that is really the only downside.

I have a $2,500 deductible which sounds high, but I love the flexibility of going to the doctor of my choice, and since this amount is taken out of my husband’s check we are already budgeting for it. I feel like I am more in control of my family’s health care this way.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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