1406 - Consolidated Benefits (CoBen)
Benefits and Insurance
- Personnel Officers
- Personnel Transactions Staff
- Personnel Transactions Supervisors
- Provides information on the state administered Consolidated Benefits (CoBen) program and the Cash Option program.
- Clarifies eligibility for the CoBen.
- Clarifies eligibility and enrollment procedures for the Cash Option program.
- Provides general information on the annual Cash Option Open Enrollment period.
The California Department of Human Resources (CalHR) administers the state’s CoBen program. There are two types of benefits presented under the CoBen program: the CoBen Benefit Allowance and Cash Option program.
CoBen Benefit Allowance
Rank-and-file employees in Bargaining Units 2, 7, 8, 16, 17, 18, 19 and excluded employees who are eligible for health benefits are entitled to the CoBen benefit allowance.
The CoBen allowance provides a single combined employer contribution amount for an employee’s health, dental, and vision benefits. If an employee chooses benefit plans that total less than the CoBen allowance, the employee’s pay warrant will include the additional income (taxable) from the excess allowance. If the employee chooses plans that exceed the amount of the benefit allowance, the employee pays the difference via their pay warrant as a pre-tax deduction.
The CoBen allowance is automatically established in the State Controller’s Office (SCO) payroll system; therefore no enrollment is required. The amount of the benefit allowance is determined by the number of dependents that the employee chooses to cover. If the employee is enrolled in a state-sponsored health and dental plan, their health benefit party code will determine the CoBen allowance they will receive.
The CoBen allowance for represented employees is determined through collective bargaining. New employees who have never had state health benefit eligibility may be subject to health dependent vesting during the first 12 or 24 months of state service which provides a reduced CoBen allowance. For information on dependent health care vesting and current CoBen allowance amounts, refer to the appropriate Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or the Benefits Calculator on CalHR’s website.
The Benefits Calculator will help employees determine how much will be deducted from their pay warrant, or added to it, based on the health, dental, and vision plans chosen. The calculator automatically computes the total cost of the benefits selected and subtracts the amount from the CoBen allowance.
CoBen Cash Option
Employees eligible for the CoBen allowance are also eligible to enroll in the CoBen Cash Option program (except Judicial Council employees, Judges, and Justices) if they attest to having qualifying group health coverage through another source. Additional employees eligible to participate in the Cash Option program include seasonal lifeguards in Bargaining Unit 7 and seasonal firefighters in Bargaining Unit 8.
Special eligibility rules apply to Permanent Intermittent (PI), Limited-Term (LT), and Temporary Authorization (TAU) appointments:
- PI employees have limited eligibility (refer to Benefits Administration Manual (BAM) section 1600 on CalHR’s website).
- LT or TAU appointments of more than six months do not need a mandatory right of return to a permanent position to become eligible.
Employees who attest that they have qualifying group health and/or dental coverage through a spouse, domestic partner, parent, or another source have the option to receive cash in lieu of state-sponsored health and/or dental benefits. Qualifying group health coverage includes health coverage that provides minimum value as established by the federal Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (ACA) and is maintained by an employer or employee organization. All state California Public Employees’ Retirement (CalPERS) health plans currently meet the law’s minimum value standard.
Employees enrolled in individual coverage such as, but not limited to, TRICARE, Medicare, Medi-Cal, and Covered California, are not eligible to receive cash in lieu of state-sponsored health benefits even if the coverage provides minimum value.
The Cash Option benefit is determined through collective bargaining. For current Cash Option payment amounts, refer to the appropriate Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or the BAM section 1604 on CalHR’s website.
The annual Open Enrollment period is traditionally held during the fall and allows employees to enroll in the Cash Option program, change, or cancel their enrollment.
- Affordable Care Act
- Bargaining Contracts - MOUs
- California Code of Regulations, title 2, sections 599.956 to 599.959
- Internal Revenue Code section125
- California Code of Regulations, title 2, sections 599.950 to 599.955
- Dependent Health Care Vesting: Frequently Asked Questions
- STD 702 : Consolidated Benefits Cash Enrollment Election Form
- PML 1999-034: 1999 Open Enrollment Period for Dental, FlexElect, and Consolidated Benefits (CoBen) Cash Option and Dental Premium Rate Charts
- PML 2002-020: Bargaining Unit 2 Added to Consolidated Benefits (CoBen) and Special Dental Open Enrollment Period for Unit 2 ; Changes to Unit 2 Dental Coverage
- PML 2015-018: PML 2015-018 - 6/26/2015 - Clarification of Eligibility Criteria for FlexElect and Consolidated Benefits (CoBen) Cash Option Programs
- PML 2015-024: PML 2015-024 - 9/11/2015 - 2015 Open Enrollment Period; 2016 Dental and Vision Plan Premiums; Consolidated Benefits (CoBen) and Employer Health Benefit Contributions
- PML 2016-022: PML 2016-022 - 9/12/2016 - 2016 Open Enrollment Period, 2017 Dental and Vision Plan Premiums, Consolidated Benefits, and Employer Health Benefit Contributions
- 2019 Consolidated Benefits Handbook: 2019 Consolidated Benefits Handbook
- Application of Market Reform and other Provisions of the Affordable Care Act : to HRAs, Health FSAs, and Certain other Healthcare Arrangements
- BAM section 1600: CoBen (enrollment forms, processing instructions)
- Dependent Health Care Vesting: Dependent Health Care Vesting
- Open Enrollment Toolkit: Information and resources to assist HR Professionals in completing open enrollment forms.
Chief, Benefits Division