Personal Finance

Properly using Employee Benefits Programs

  • Last Updated:
  • Jan 10th, 2019 10:47 am
[OP]
Member
Mar 15, 2011
440 posts
116 upvotes
Toronto

Properly using Employee Benefits Programs

Hello,

I was not sure where exactly to post this thread, so moderators, feel free to move it if there is a better place.

As I've now been in the workforce for a decade, I've come to realize that for the first 5-6 years of my work life, I ignored most benefit programs - did not realize they existed or even know how to use them to my advantage.
With that in mind, I would like to hear some ideas of neat workplace benefits that people get and are able to use to their advantage. Companies do spend money on these, and I figure as employees we should be using them, right?

Stuff to think about:
(1) Gym memberships - do you get them and get use out of them when gyms charge on average $40 biweekly, most programs won't cover it all....
(2) Wellness credits - gaining popularity I think, what types of things do you get under this benefit and how often?
(3) Health Benefits - my default is to use this for massage,
(4) Vision Benefits - really crappy in most work places, around $200 every 2 years, from when I've asked others. Always wish it were more.
(5) Orthopaedic inserts - not something most young adults think about, but when you actually need them in your 50s you might not get it...and they are quite pricey
(6) EAP = Employee Assistance Program. I just know mine exists, not at all sure how to get any benefit out of it. This is like a black box...larger companies pay for it but don't know how it gets used??
For the EAP, I'm trying to see what I can get out of it without outlaying too much $$, but so far, I've just got a bunch of videos on fitness and finance advice.

I've not covered these obvious ones, as I think most people would sign up for these by default:
(1) Retirement programs DB or DC matching
(2) Company life insurance , disability etc.; home & auto group rates etc.
(3) Stock purchase programs
(4) Prescription Drugs and Dental

Discuss!
- Karen
18 replies
Deal Expert
User avatar
Mar 18, 2005
18962 posts
2259 upvotes
Niagara Falls
I use the crap out of my dental benefits. I never had any growing up and my teeth suffered. Most of them have fillings.

Now that I get regular cleaning I never have any issues.
Sr. Member
Nov 30, 2011
968 posts
364 upvotes
GTA
My EAP has a Fitness Management counselling component. Everyone at the office signed up like crazy when we found out you would get a free Fit Bit !!!
Deal Expert
User avatar
Jan 27, 2004
41213 posts
4978 upvotes
T.O. Lotto Captain
I found out that my EAP includes 10 free days of back up child care! That's amazing...
Theres also counselling for people who take care of elders.
But it doesn't have cool stuff people actually use... Like gym memberships and fitness credits. =[

But there are a few other aspects of the compensation plan that are quite good. The employee share ownership plan is good... they match your contributions by 50% up to 6% your salary.

Also after 2 years of services... You're part of the pension with no deductions off your pay check.
Deal Fanatic
Dec 11, 2008
9652 posts
1335 upvotes
I'll discuss me and my partner since we have now been in a situation where we seem to be able to maximize what we both offer and luckily we offer a bit of everything. However if this was strictly my plan only, then I have everything except for the Wellness Program.

(1) Gym memberships - we both have gym memberships through my work plan $399 + tax per person annually through Goodlife which is paid for by my partner's.... (2)
(2) Wellness credits - This pays for the gym memberships, VEGO ONE breakfast for me, Ski lifts, basically anything we can claim we will. My benefits are much better than my partner so we put all of his benefits towards the Wellness credit so we can claim everyday stuff we'd use. I beliefe we get a little over $2000 per year so that's basically $2000 in savings a year for stuff we use anyways.
(3) Health Benefits - We have almost everything covered, drugs etc. under my plan But other things like massages are only 50% so we don't use them. But things like custom shoes we maximize them and get 8 pairs a year.
(4) Vision Benefits - From my plan. It is way too generous. $750 every 2 years per person. That is about a pair of glasses each year for each of us and we can barely use it. We just use it to get new glasses and charge our credit cards for points lol. SO I basically get a new pair of glasses every other year and a new pair of sunglasses every other year and rotate.
(5) Orthopaedic inserts - I need them and we only get them every 3 years. But I find a way to get more given my benefits ;)
(6) EAP = Employee Assistance Program - My company has this. I used it ONCE during my landlord/tenant dispute but other than that, I do not use.

I've not covered these obvious ones, as I think most people would sign up for these by default:
(1) Retirement programs DB or DC matching: We both have DB pensions but mine is much better.
(2) Company life insurance , disability etc.; home & auto group rates etc.: I have 2x income life insurance from my company and we have short term and long term disability too. Not sure if my partner has any of these things. But they are not optional for us and are provided through the company. Oddly enough our company's mean nothing to auto and home insurance discounts. Our professional designations mean much more so we use that.
(3) Stock purchase programs: my partner has stock purchase options and he maximizes them.
(4) Prescription Drugs and Dental: 100% covered for basically everything "normal". Other hefty dentals are 85% covered and prescription needs to be reasonable. We only do what is required for drugs and for dental, unfortunately we do not maximize them. But we are starting to go more often.
Deal Addict
Feb 29, 2012
2654 posts
1448 upvotes
Richmond
If you're with a large employer, you're paying for these benefits indirectly at a rate of 2-3x the average employee usage, so you might as well use them. If you're with a small employer, you might try suggesting to the employer that you'd rather have 2-3x the money in your own pocket instead of paying for routine things through the insurer.
Member
Mar 5, 2013
497 posts
118 upvotes
Ottawa
I would say wellness and health fall under the same umbrella here. No referral required: massage, osteopath, podiatrist/chiropodist, acupuncture, naturopath, chiropractor. Referral required: psychologist, speech therapist, physiotherapy. Other: hearing aids, orthopedic shoes or inserts, social worker. These are capped at various amounts for the year.

Vision: $400 for classes every 4 years. My prescription costs me around $800 every two years. You do the math, but it’s better than nothing. They also pay for the optometrist fee of $80 every two years.

EAP – help with health plan, career counseling, childcare and parenting, elder care, legal advice, nutrition counseling, pre-retirement planning, relationships, shift worker support, smoking cessation program. This is meant for the short term, and is limited to a max of 5 sessions. If you need help beyond that, you have to start with an expert under the health plan, for example, psychologist or social worker. Not that helpful if you have to start over with someone else, depending on the situation.

Prescription coverage is somewhat ok. Only older drugs will be reimbursed to keep costs down, and only generic brands at that. If you’re prescribed a newer drug, you pay for it yourself or ask your doctor to prescribe another drug that’s covered. It all depends on what drugs the executives need and want to be reimbursed for themselves. If there’s a medical reason why you need a specific drug, for example, you have side effects using a generic version, you can make the request to the insurance company to give you an exemption, but it’s a real hassle, and more often than not, it gets refused.

I'd have to look into gym memberships. I think we may be entitled to a discount. I should look into it.
Deal Addict
Dec 12, 2009
3526 posts
1343 upvotes
Toronto
Faith24 wrote:
Mar 30th, 2017 9:53 am
If you're with a large employer, you're paying for these benefits indirectly at a rate of 2-3x the average employee usage, so you might as well use them. If you're with a small employer, you might try suggesting to the employer that you'd rather have 2-3x the money in your own pocket instead of paying for routine things through the insurer.
Actually a Health Care Spending Account is a better idea - it lets you choose what you need and when. Things change through life and a HCSA gives you the most bang for the buck.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Healthcar ... ng_Account
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Comparing the consumer accessible credit scores
Deal Fanatic
May 29, 2006
9659 posts
2319 upvotes
i get
health care including out of country, most items are 80%, it covers my whole family which is nice, i pay nothing on my check for this. our plan has 750$ per year limits on things like massages, no deductable on those.
dental is the same as above.
vision is 1 doctor visit every 24 months, no deductable.
no health spending
no gym memberships
pension is DCPP, 5% matching, this is good and bad, the money is locked up tight, so you cannot access it until retirement, forces you to save.
EAP - never used it.
we have 12 sicks days a year, and you can bank the unused ones, we have no short term disablity, but banked days can be used instead. we have long term disability.
disablity insurance, double your salary, 4x if its accidental.
[OP]
Member
Mar 15, 2011
440 posts
116 upvotes
Toronto
westcoastyvr wrote:
Mar 30th, 2017 12:57 am
My EAP has a Fitness Management counselling component. Everyone at the office signed up like crazy when we found out you would get a free Fit Bit !!!
Nice, what process was required to get this. I've heard rumours my plan also offers it.
UrbanPoet wrote:
Mar 30th, 2017 1:20 am
I found out that my EAP includes 10 free days of back up child care! That's amazing...
Theres also counselling for people who take care of elders.
But it doesn't have cool stuff people actually use... Like gym memberships and fitness credits. =[

But there are a few other aspects of the compensation plan that are quite good. The employee share ownership plan is good... they match your contributions by 50% up to 6% your salary.

Also after 2 years of services... You're part of the pension with no deductions off your pay check.
That childcare is handy, is it free? Great for summer vacation time!
[OP]
Member
Mar 15, 2011
440 posts
116 upvotes
Toronto
speedyforme wrote:
Mar 30th, 2017 9:01 am
I'll discuss me and my partner since we have now been in a situation where we seem to be able to maximize what we both offer and luckily we offer a bit of everything. However if this was strictly my plan only, then I have everything except for the Wellness Program.

(1) Gym memberships - we both have gym memberships through my work plan $399 + tax per person annually through Goodlife which is paid for by my partner's.... (2)
(2) Wellness credits - This pays for the gym memberships, VEGO ONE breakfast for me, Ski lifts, basically anything we can claim we will. My benefits are much better than my partner so we put all of his benefits towards the Wellness credit so we can claim everyday stuff we'd use. I beliefe we get a little over $2000 per year so that's basically $2000 in savings a year for stuff we use anyways.
(3) Health Benefits - We have almost everything covered, drugs etc. under my plan But other things like massages are only 50% so we don't use them. But things like custom shoes we maximize them and get 8 pairs a year.
(4) Vision Benefits - From my plan. It is way too generous. $750 every 2 years per person. That is about a pair of glasses each year for each of us and we can barely use it. We just use it to get new glasses and charge our credit cards for points lol. SO I basically get a new pair of glasses every other year and a new pair of sunglasses every other year and rotate.
(5) Orthopaedic inserts - I need them and we only get them every 3 years. But I find a way to get more given my benefits ;)
(6) EAP = Employee Assistance Program - My company has this. I used it ONCE during my landlord/tenant dispute but other than that, I do not use.

I've not covered these obvious ones, as I think most people would sign up for these by default:
(1) Retirement programs DB or DC matching: We both have DB pensions but mine is much better.
(2) Company life insurance , disability etc.; home & auto group rates etc.: I have 2x income life insurance from my company and we have short term and long term disability too. Not sure if my partner has any of these things. But they are not optional for us and are provided through the company. Oddly enough our company's mean nothing to auto and home insurance discounts. Our professional designations mean much more so we use that.
(3) Stock purchase programs: my partner has stock purchase options and he maximizes them.
(4) Prescription Drugs and Dental: 100% covered for basically everything "normal". Other hefty dentals are 85% covered and prescription needs to be reasonable. We only do what is required for drugs and for dental, unfortunately we do not maximize them. But we are starting to go more often.
Very impressive...you are using it well! I would love to have your vision benefits!
Faith24 wrote:
Mar 30th, 2017 9:53 am
If you're with a large employer, you're paying for these benefits indirectly at a rate of 2-3x the average employee usage, so you might as well use them. If you're with a small employer, you might try suggesting to the employer that you'd rather have 2-3x the money in your own pocket instead of paying for routine things through the insurer.
Agree!
[OP]
Member
Mar 15, 2011
440 posts
116 upvotes
Toronto
I just learned about Perkopolis. Anyone knows what the best use of this discounts site is ?
Deal Addict
Nov 8, 2017
1123 posts
552 upvotes
Extended medical, low prescription costs
Massages, which my GF uses
Match dollar for dollar on pension program
I really don't use any other of their benefits except I have life insurance @ 100k which my estate will get when I croke Also a dismemberment policy

3 years ago I broke my leg which my accumulated sick time covered me. I was still getting paid to not work.

This is why you don't abuse sick time like a lot of people do.
I see it as insurance
Jr. Member
User avatar
Nov 20, 2013
140 posts
46 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
speedyforme wrote:
Mar 30th, 2017 9:01 am
things like custom shoes we maximize them and get 8 pairs a year.
could you please say a bit more about custom shoes? PM if you don't feel like sharing in public Smiling Face With Sunglasses.
I'd appretiate any other tips on maximizing benefits, as I am totally new to having them.

I saw the ad on some optical store the other day: Use your benefits before they expire Dec 31st! Did I miss something here if I remain at the same employer with the same benefits package? I mean what is different after dec 31st... :rolleyes:
Thanx!
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Public Mobile customer, as well as NOVUS, Modo, Car2Go, Evo and Endy mattress :)
Deal Addict
Nov 8, 2017
1123 posts
552 upvotes
I'm employed by a health authority on Vancouver Island
My GF uses the 10 messages I get every year
My employer matches dollar for dollar in the municipal pension plan
Prescription drug coverage, 180 vacay hrs a year, sick time, compassionate leave...a whole slew other bennies I haven't really had to use

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