Consolidated Benefits (CoBen) - CalHR

 

Consolidated Benefits (CoBen)

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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How CoBen Works

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.

 

  • If the total cost of the plans you choose is less than your benefit allowance, you'll receive the difference as taxable cash (CoBen Cash) in your paycheck. The excess cash amount is subject to state, federal, and social security taxes. In order to receive CoBen Cash, you must be enrolled in health, dental, and vision.

  • If the total cost of the plans you've chosen is more than your CoBen allowance, you pay the difference with pre-tax dollars, which is automatically deducted from your paycheck. This amount is not subject to state, federal, Social Security, or Medicare taxes.

  • If the total cost of the plans you have chosen is equal to your CoBen allowance, you pay nothing, and you receive no cash back.

  • If you are enrolled in health and vision only, the premium amount that would be deducted from your allowance for dental is applied to reduce your out of premium pocket cost.

  • If you're not enrolled in all three benefits, you're not eligible to receive CoBen Cash.

 

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

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.

 

CoBen Publications and Forms

  • CoBen Handbook 2014 (Adobe Acrobat)
  • CoBen Handbook 2013 (Adobe Acrobat)
  • STD. 702 Consolidated Benefits Cash Enrollment Election Form (Adobe Acrobat)
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    Represented and Excluded Employee CoBen Allowance

    Allowance amounts for represented employees may be subject to change based on any changes in Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) and are subject to union ratification and legislative approval. For the most current information, review your MOU or visit CalHR.ca.gov.

     

    The following employer CoBen contribution rates are effective, January 1, 2013. The collective bargaining process is fluid and changes may subsequently be agreed to which could alter these amounts. CalHR will notify you if there are any changes.

     

    *Units 2 and 7 - CoBen Allowance

    • Employee: $544
    • Employee plus 1 dependent: $1,073
    • Employee plus 2 or more dependents: $1,402

     

    *Units 2 and 7 - CoBen Allowance for Employees Subject to Dependent Health Vesting

    • Employee, dependent contribution level 50%: $544; 75%: $544
    • Employee plus 1 dependent, dependent contribution level 50%: $825; 75%: $949
    • Employee plus 2 or more dependent, dependent contribution level 50%: $1,006; 75%: $1,204

     

    *Contributions will reflect 2013 rates until new bargaining unit contract is in place.

     

    Units 16, 18 and 19 – CoBen Allowance

    • Employee:  $557
    • Employee plus 1 dependent:  $1,096
    • Employee plus 2 or more dependents:  $1,429

     

    Units 16, 18 and 19 – CoBen Allowance for Employees Subject to Dependent Health Vesting

    • Employee, dependent contribution level 50%:  $557; 75%:  $557
    • Employee plus 1 dependent, dependent contribution level 50%:  $840; 75%:  968
    • Employee plus 2 or more dependents, dependent contribution level 50%:  $1,021; 75%:  $1,225

     

    Unit 17 – CoBen Allowance

    • Employee:  $557
    • Employee plus 1 dependent:  $1,096
    • Employee plus 2 or more dependents $1,429

     

    Unit 17 – CoBen Allowance for Employees Subject to Dependent Health Vesting

    • Employee, dependent contribution level 50%:  N/A; 75%:  $557
    • Employee plus 1 dependent, dependent contribution level 50%:  N/A; 75%:  $968
    • Employee plus 2 or more dependents, dependent contribution level 50%:  N/A: 75%:  $1,225

    Unit 8 - CoBen Allowance

    • Employee: $589
    • Employee plus 1 dependent: $1,128
    • Employee plus 2 or more dependents: $1,461

     

    Excluded Employees - CoBen Allowance

    * Employee: $590

    * Employee plus 1 dependent: $1,140

    * Employee plus 2 or more dependents: $1,474

     

    Calculating Your Cost or Savings

    The following worksheet will help you calculate whether you will have monthly out-of-pocket premium costs deducted from your paycheck or be eligible to receive CoBen Cash in your paycheck each month. An automated Benefits Calculator is also available.

     

     

     Benefits Calculator

    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.  Note: The calculator performs best on Internet Explorer and does not work on certain smart phones and mobile devices.

     

    Eligibility

    Eligibility for CoBen is determined through the collective bargaining process for represented employees. Current bargaining units participating in CoBen are units 2, 7, 8, 16, 17, 18, and 19. All employees excluded from collective bargaining (those employees classified as excluded, exempt, and confidential) are also eligible.

     

    Making Changes to Your Current Benefits

    You may make changes to your benefits during Open Enrollment, usually during September and October of each year. During this time, you have the opportunity to:

     

    • Enroll for the first time
    • Change your health and/or dental plan
    • Elect CoBen Cash Option in lieu of your health and dental coverage or your health coverage only
    • Add or delete eligible dependents covered by your health and/or dental plans.

     

    Cash Option

    If you have coverage through another source, such as your parent or spouse, you may opt to receive cash in lieu of both your health and dental coverage or for your health coverage only. For more information see CoBen Cash Option

     

    Before you Enroll/Dental Coverage

    It is important for you to keep in mind that the choice you make for your dental coverage is a three-year commitment -- whether to keep your State-sponsored dental coverage or receive cash in lieu of dental coverage. This means:

     

    1) If you enroll in the Cash Option for health only and enroll in a State dental plan, you must remain in a State dental plan for three years, unless you experience a valid "permitting event" under the CoBen Program. (See Changes Allowed due to Permitting Events.)

     

    2) If you enroll in the Cash Option for health and dental, you may not cancel your dental Cash Option for three years, unless you lost your other dental coverage, or you canceled both your health and dental CoBen Cash during an open enrollment period, or due to a valid permitting event under the CoBen Program. After completing the three year commitment, employees may enroll in a dental plan during the open enrollment period.

     

    Vision

    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.

     

     

    2014 Health Benefit Plan Premiums

    1 PARTY (EMPLOYEE ONLY)

    Health Plans
    • Anthem Select HMO - $622.53
    • Anthem Traditional HMO - $670.36
    • Anthem EPO - $670.36
    • Blue Shield Access + - $655.02
    • Blue Shield - $655.02
    • Blue Shield Net Value - $575.78
    • Kaiser - $661.61
    • Kaiser Out-of-State - $917.20
    • PERS Choice - $643.53
    • PERS Select - $594.95
    • PERS Care - $698.73
    • CAHP - $585.96 (S05 & M05)
    • CCPOA No. Cal. - $647.19
    • CCPOA So. Cal. - $533.75
    • Health Net Salud yMas' - $515.87
    • Health Net Smart Care - $632.38
    • Sharp - $562.14
    • United Health Care - $652.08

    2 PARTY (EMPLOYEE +1 DEPENDENT)

    Health Plans
    • Anthem Select HMO - $1,245.06

    • Anthem Traditional HMO - $1,340.72

    • Anthem EPO - $1,340.72

    • Blue Shield Access + - $1,310.04

    • Blue Shield - $1,310.04

    • Blue Shield Net Value - $1,151.56

    • Kaiser - $1,323.22

    • Kaiser Out-of-State - $1,834.40

    • PERS Choice - $1,287.06

    • PERS Select - $1,189.90

    • PERS Care - $1,397.46

    • CAHP - $1,142.61 (S05 & M05)

    • CCPOA No. Cal. - $1,296.69

    • CCPOA So. Cal. - $1,069.76

    • Health Net Salud yMas' - $1,031.74

    • Health Net Smart Care - $1,264.76

    • Sharp - $1,124.28

    • United Health Care - $1,304.16

    3 PARTY (EMPLOYEE +2 OR MORE DEPENDENTS)

    Health Plans
    • Anthem Select HMO - $1,618.58
    • Anthem Traditional HMO - $1,742.94
    • Anthem EPO - $1,742.94
    • Blue Shield Access + - $1,703.05
    • Blue Shield - $1,703.05
    • Blue Shield Net Value - $1,497.03
    • Kaiser - $1,720.19
    • Kaiser Out-of-State - $2,384.72
    • PERS Choice - $1,673.18
    • PERS Select - $1,546.87
    • PERS Care - $1,816.70
    • CAHP - $1,484.07 (S05 & M05)
    • CCPOA No. Cal. - $1,750.51
    • CCPOA So. Cal. - $1,445.37
    • Health Net Salud yMas' - $1,341.26
    • Health Net Smart Care - $1,644.19
    • Sharp - $1,461.56
    • United Health Care - $1,695.41

     

    2014 Dental Benefit Plan Premiums

    1 PARTY (EMPLOYEE ONLY)

    Dental Plans
    • Delta Dental PPO plus Premier (Basic)* - $48.48
    • Delta Dental PPO plus Premier (Enhanced)** - $50.45
    • Delta PPO - $44.24

    2 PARTY (EMPLOYEE +1 DEPENDENT)

    Dental Plans
    • Delta Dental PPO plus Premier (Basic)* - $85.13
    • Delta Dental PPO plus Premier (Enhanced)** - $99.94
    • Delta PPO - $86.64

    3 PARTY (EMPLOYEE +2 OR MORE DEPENDENTS)

    Dental Plans
    • Delta Dental PPO plus Premier (Basic)* - $123.34
    • Delta Dental PPO plus Premier (Enhanced)** - $140.65
    • Delta PPO - $130.69

     

    2014 Pre-Paid Dental Benefit Plan Premiums

    1 PARTY (EMPLOYEE ONLY)

    Pre-Paid Dental Plans
    • SafeGuard (Standard)* - $16.58
    • SafeGuard (Enhanced)** - $16.92
    • DeltaCare USA - $17.72
    • Premier Access - $16.63
    • Western Dental - $14.72

    2 PARTY (EMPLOYEE +1 DEPENDENT)

    Pre-Paid Dental Plans
    • SafeGuard (Standard)* - $26.86
    • SafeGuard (Enhanced)** - $28.63
    • DeltaCare USA - $29.07
    • Premier Access - $26.94
    • Western Dental - $24.29

    3 PARTY (EMPLOYEE +2 OR MORE DEPENDENTS)

    Pre-Paid Dental Plans
    • SafeGuard (Standard)* - $37.62
    • SafeGuard (Enhanced)** - $35.27
    • DeltaCare USA - $40.21
    • Premier Access - $37.73
    • Western Dental - $34.46
     

    2014 Vision Benefit Plan Premiums

    The cost for Basic vision plan  is $8.64 whether you choose coverage for 1 Party (Employee only), 2 Party (Employee +1 dependent), or 3 Party (Employee +2 or more dependents). The State contributes 100 percent toward the cost of this plan.
     
    The cost for Premier vision plan is $15.20 1 Party (Employee only), $21.76 for 2 Party (Employee +1 dependent), or $29.76 for 3 Party (Employee +2 or more dependents). The State contributes $8.64 toward the cost of this plan for each party code (1,2 or 3).  The employee’s cost after the State’s contribution is - $6.56 for 1 party (Employee only), $13.12  for 2 party - (Employee +1 dependent)/ 3 or more  - $21.12 (Employee +2 or more dependents). Employees in CoBen will see the full premium amount applied against their CoBen contribution.
     

    For More Information

    If you have additional questions about Consolidated Benefits or please contact your department’s personnel office.
     

    Permitting Events

    Your CoBen choices, whether for health and dental benefits, for cash in lieu of health benefits, or for cash in lieu of health and dental benefits, are in effect for your entire period of participation. Your period of participation begins with the effective date of your enrollment and ends on December 31 of each year, or sooner if you leave active pay status or cancel your enrollment. You may not change or cancel your CoBen choices during the year unless you experience a permitting event. You must apply any changes, cancellations, or enrollments within 60 days of the date of the permitting event.

     

    You're permitted to apply approved changes only if you experience a qualifying change in status. You have 60 days following the date of your status change to take the corresponding action. The State Controller's Office must receive your completed form(s) by the 10th of the month, and is effective on the first of the following month.

     

     

    • Initial appointment to state service - You may enroll as newly eligible.

    • Marriage - You may enroll as newly eligible or, if currently enrolled, you may change/cancel your CoBen choices.

    • Divorce (date of final divorce), legal separation, annulment - You may enroll as newly eligible or, if currently enrolled, you may change/cancel your CoBen choices

    • Birth, adoption or child placed for adoption - You may enroll as newly eligible or, if currently enrolled, you may change/cancel your CoBen choices.

    • Death of spouse or domestic partner - You may enroll as newly eligible or, if currently enrolled, you may change/cancel your CoBen choices.

    • Loss of health and/or dental coverage provided through spouse, domestic partner, or other source due to an employment status change - If you are currently enrolled in the CoBen Cash Option, you may cancel/change your CoBen choices.

    • Medical/dental plan is no longer available - If you are currently enrolled, you may cancel/change your medical/dental plans. New enrollments are not allowed.

    • Moving out of a group practice plan service area - You may cancel/change your CoBen choices; however, new enrollments are not allowed. If your plan is no longer available, you may enroll in a new plan.

    • New health and/or dental plan(s) in area where none was previously available - New health and/or dental plan(s) in area where none was previously available.

    • Addition or deletion of dependents on health and/or dental plans - If permissible under CalPERS for health and CalHR for dental, you may change the party code on your health and/or dental plans.

    • Commencement of medical and/or dental coverage provided through spouse, domestic partner, survivor benefits, or other source, due to an employment status change - May enroll in Cash Option as newly eligible or, if currently enrolled, may cancel/change CoBen Cash Option.

     

     In addition to the permitting events listed above, there are other payroll status changes that affect your CoBen Cash enrollment:

     

    Non-Industrial Disability Insurance (NDI):

    If you go on NDI while enrolled in the CoBen Cash Option, your monthly cash option payment remains in effect and is reflected on your NDI check.
     

    Industrial Disability Leave (IDL) and Temporary Disability (TD):

    If you go on IDL or TD while enrolled in the CoBen Cash Option, your enrollment remains in effect. You will receive a separate check for your cash option, issued about a week after your IDL or TD check.
     

    State Disability Insurance (SDI) for employees in Bargaining Unit 17 (only):

    If you go on SDI while enrolled in the CoBen Cash Option, your enrollment stops while you are on leave. If you return to pay status in the same CoBen plan year, your enrollment resumes.
     

    Unpaid Leave of Absence:

    If you are on an unpaid leave of absence while enrolled in the CoBen Cash Option, your enrollment stops while you are on leave. If you return to pay status in the same CoBen plan year, your enrollment resumes.
     

    Military Leave:

    If you are called to active duty pursuant to Government Code Section 19775.18, for the War on Terrorism, you are eligible to retain your State benefits for up to 365 calendar days above the 180 calendar days provided by GC Section 19775.17. If you are currently receiving CoBen Cash in lieu of health and dental, or health benefits only, you may continue to receive the cash for the duration of your military leave, not to exceed the time limits mentioned above. Military Leave is not a permitting event to newly enroll into the CoBen Cash Option Program.
     

    Retirement

    If you're enrolled in a cash option when you retire, your cash option stops automatically.  You will need to take the following actions to protect your benefits:
    If enrolled in the cash option for health benefits you have 30 days prior to or 60 days following the date of your retirement to enroll in California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) health plan. If you don't enroll within this time period, you must wait until the next health open enrollment. Your enrollment at that point would be handled through CalPERS. If enrolled in the cash option for dental benefits: You have 30 days prior to or 60 days following the date of your retirement to enroll in a dental plan.
     
     
    If you don't enroll within this time period, you must wait until the next dental open enrollment. If you enroll prior to retirement, your dental enrollment will be processed through your personnel office. If you enroll following retirement, your enrollment is handled through CalPERS.
     

    Benefit Allowance - FAQs

    WHAT IS A COBEN ALLOWANCE?

    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, and you may not cancel your State-sponsored vision coverage.

    WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR THE COBEN ALLOWANCE?

    State employees eligible for the CoBen Benefit Allowance must meet the eligibility criteria listed below:
    • Designated Bargaining Unit 2, 7, 8, 16, 17, 18, and 19, managerial, supervisory, exempt (except Judicial council employees, Judges and Justices), confidential, and all other permanent employees excluded from collective bargaining.
    • Limited-Term (LT) or Temporary Authorization (TAU) employees appointed six months or more (for appointments in item 1).
    • Seasonal Lifeguards (Unit 7) and Seasonal Firefighters (Unit 8).
    • All eligible employees must work half-time or more.
     

    WHEN IS MY BENEFIT ALLOWANCE EFFECTIVE?

    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.

    WHAT HAPPENS IF THE TOTAL COST OF MY HEALTH, DENTAL, AND VISION BENEFITS ARE LESS THAN MY ALLOWANCE?

    If the total cost of the plans you choose is less than your CoBen allowance, then you will receive the difference as taxable cash (excess cash) in your paycheck. The excess cash amount will be subject to state, federal, and social security taxes.

    WHAT HAPPENS IF THE TOTAL COST OF MY HEALTH, DENTAL, AND VISION BENEFITS ARE MORE THAN MY ALLOWANCE?

    If the total cost of the plans you choose is more than your CoBen allowance, then you pay the difference (out-of-pocket) with pre-tax dollars automatically deducted from your paycheck. The out-of-pocket amount will not be subject to State, Federal, and Social Security taxes.

    WHAT HAPPENS TO MY CoBEN ALLOWANCE IF I RECEIVE CASH IN LIEU OF HEALTH COVERAGE?

    If you elect to receive cash in lieu of your State-sponsored health plan but enroll in a State-sponsored dental plan, then your dental benefit enrollment party code will be used to determine the amount of the benefit allowance. In this situation, you will receive cash in lieu of health, and your dental and vision premiums will be fully paid. You will not have an out-of-pocket dental and vision premium cost.
     
    However, if the total cost of your dental and vision premium is less than your benefit allowance, than you will not receive the difference (excess cash) in your paycheck. In order to receive excess cash, you must be enrolled in health, dental, and vision. If you are not enrolled in all three benefits, then you will not be eligible to receive excess cash.

    IS THERE A COBEN ALLOWANCE IN RETIREMENT?

    No. Your CoBen allowance will automatically stop at the time of retirement or separation, if your benefits are canceled for non-eligibility, or there is a change in your eligibility for Consolidated Benefits. At retirement, your health and dental deduction (if any) will be shown as the State share and retiree share of the applicable premiums.

    WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?

    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.

    Updated 4/29/2014