Employees in bargaining units 2, 7, 8, 16, 17, 18, and 19, and excluded employees, receive a Consolidated Benefits (CoBen) allowance to use for health, dental, and vision insurance.
Depending on the total cost of the benefit plans you choose, CoBen may allow you to receive additional taxable income each month, which you can use to offset out-of-pocket premium costs. This web page offers you valuable information so that you can make the most out of the CoBen Program.
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First, identify the amount of your CoBen allowance. This is the amount the state provides you to pay the premiums for your health and dental plans. The state pays for your vision plan. The amount of your CoBen allowance depends on whether you're covering yourself only, or dependents too.
Next, choose the benefit plans that best meet your needs. Identify the premium for each plan, total the cost of the plans you've selected, and compare it to your CoBen allowance.
You make the most out of your participation in CoBen by making cost-effective benefit choices, which can result in extra money for you each month in your paycheck. It's also important that you carefully consider your choices to ensure they meet your ongoing health and dental needs and those of your eligible dependents. Your health plan party code selection (1, 2, or 3) will determine your CoBen allowance when enrolled in all three benefits.
How CoBen affects you depends on your personal situation and the benefit plans you choose. Remember, CoBen offers you the opportunity to make benefit choices in order to maximize the total benefit allowance the state provides to you, or receive additional taxable monthly income.
Due to the nature of the collective bargaining process, changes may alter contribution amounts and dependent vesting levels. For the most current information, review your MOU or visit www.calhr.ca.gov.
The worksheet in the CoBen Handbook will help
you determine how much will be deducted from your pay warrant, or added to it,
based on the health, dental, and vision plans chosen. Or you may use the automated Benefits Calculator below.
If you are going to make a change in your benefit choices, you may want to use the Benefits Calculator to help you determine your deduction or deposit amount, based on which health and dental plans you choose. You simply click on your health and dental plan choices, and how many dependents you cover. The calculator automatically computes the total cost of the benefits you select and subtracts them from the CoBen Allowance. The result shows whether you have a monthly benefit deduction or receive extra cash.
New employees may be subject to dependent health care vesting. Dependent health care vesting provides new employees a reduced employer health benefits contribution toward dependent health coverage during the first 12 or 24 months of service. After the 12 or 24 months, these employees will receive the full employer contribution for their dependents as specified in their collective agreement. Please refer to the appropriate MOU for the specific criteria for determining if you are subject to dependent health care vesting.
All employees are automatically enrolled in the state's vision plan. Therefore, you need to add in the cost of this coverage when calculating the total cost of your benefits. For employees in CoBen, enrollment in the vision plan is mandatory.
The state will establish one "combined" employer contribution (known as a "CoBen Allowance") amount for your health, dental, and vision benefits. The CoBen allowance is automatically established in the SCO payroll system; therefore, no enrollment form is required. Based on the health, dental, and vision plans you choose, the full premium cost is deducted from the benefit CoBen allowance. Eligible employees are automatically enrolled in the state's vision plan. The vision benefit is mandatory under CoBen, you may not cancel your state-sponsored vision coverage.
State employees eligible for the CoBen Benefit Allowance must meet the eligibility criteria listed below:
Keep in mind that no enrollment form is required and the CoBen allowance is automatically established. The effective date is on a prospective basis and based on when you move into or out of an employee designation that is eligible for Consolidated Benefits.
If you need more information, check with your department’s personnel office to obtain a copy of the CoBen Handbook.
You may also use the Benefits Calculator which will help you determine how much will be deducted from your paycheck, or added to it, based on which health and dental plans you choose. State vision coverage is mandatory under CoBen; therefore, the vision amount is automatically added into the calculation.
The CoBen Handbook also includes a worksheet that you may fill out to help calculate your benefit costs. However, the Benefits Calculator has the advantage of being easier to use and allowing you to try different scenarios. You simply click on your health and dental plan choices, and number of dependents that will be covered. The calculator automatically computes the total cost of the benefits and subtracts the CoBen allowance. The result shows whether you will have a monthly benefit deduction or receive extra cash, and the amount of the deduction or cash.
If you have additional questions about Consolidated Benefits or please contact your department’s personnel office.