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Benefits 2005, Part 5: Everything Else

Contributed by mm | November 30, 2004 10:40 AM PST

Today is the last day for 2005 benefits enrollment in my company. In the last three weeks I have shared many facets of the benefit package at Microsoft and my considerations in making each and every choice. There are a number of benefit choices I have not discussed yet, so I am using this post to wrap up and complete the whole picture.

Fortunately, the rest of the benefits package is easy:

Medical Insurance: Microsoft probably offers the best medical insurance possible -- 100% reimbursement with zero copayment for in-network providers in the Preferred Plus Plan. The other choices are HMO (typical HMO restrictions with $25 copayment in some scenarios), Core Medical ($1,000 annual deduction/person) and No Medical Insurance. Microsoft will pay employee $360/year for HMO selection, $888/year for Core Medical selection or $1,440/year for No Medical Insurance selection. Choice: Having great experience with the Preferred Plus Plan, this is almost a no-brainer choice for me. My choice is to stick to the Preferred Plus Plan.

Dental Insurance: The choice is between Standard Dental, Core Dental and No Dental. Both offers $1,500 annual maximum benefit and $25 deductible. Standard Plan offers better reimbursement ratio. Employee choosing Core Dental will receive $240/year from Microsoft. Employee choosing No Dental will receive $360/year from Microsoft. Choice: As we are anticipating a number of dentist visits to fix our teeth next year, we opt for Standard Dental Plan.

Long-Term Disability: The choice is between benefit coverage of 40%, 50% or 60% of average monthly earnings. Microsoft will pay you $50-$120/year if you choose less coverage. Choice: We signed up for the maximum coverage of 60% -- we figured out we probably cannot keep our ends meet for less than 60% of regular income upon disability.

Stay-Fit: Employee can choose to sign up for one of the several gyms at the expense of paying tax for the annual membership fee of $830 to $1,095 (based on the gym selection). If employee does not sign up for a club, he will receive $200/year pre-tax income. Essentially, the expense of signing up for gym is around $400 difference. Choice: My wife and I are making a wish to exercise more next year, so we will say farewell to $800 ($400 opportunity cost for each of us) and try to best leverage the facility next year.

Group Legal: $216/year will give you a legal package that covers some basic legal needs. Choice: I didn't find it particularly useful this year, so I will opt out.

Now I have shared all the decisions I made during this benefit enrollment season. I find it is a good way of record-keeping. I cannot wait till the next season to see whether I made the right choices.

Read The Complete Benefits 2005 Series:

Benefits 2005, Part 1: 401(k)
Benefits 2005, Part 2: Term Life Insurance
Benefits 2005, Part 3: Flexible Spending Accounts
Benefits 2005, Part 4: Accidental Death and Dismemberment
Benefits 2005, Part 5: Everything Else

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