1406 - Consolidated Benefits (CoBen)


Benefits and Insurance

Audience List

  • Personnel Officers
  • Personnel Transactions Staff
  • Personnel Transactions Supervisors


This policy:

  • 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.

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. For information 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.

Cash Option

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.

Open Enrollment

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.


Not Applicable.




  • STD 702 : Consolidated Benefits Cash Enrollment Election Form

Related Policies

Web Pages

Authorized By

Benefits Division
Benefits Division Inquiries, Benefits Division

Contact Person

Consolidated Benefits (CoBen) Program
Phone: 916-322-0300
Email: coben@calhr.ca.gov

Superseded Policies

Not Applicable.


View History

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Table of Contents

1000 - Equal Employment Opportunity

1100 - Selection

1200 - Appointments

1300 - Exempt Employees

1400 - Benefits and Insurance

1500 - Work Schedules

1600 - Third Party Pre-Tax Parking

1700 - Compensation

1800 - Savings Plus

1900 - Bona Fide Associations

2000 - Collective Bargaining

2100 - Leave

2200 - Travel/Relocation

2300 - State Owned Housing

2400 - Employee Recognition

2600 - Layoffs

2700 - Retirement

2800 - Training

2900 - Workforce Planning

3000 - Examination and Hiring

3100 - Drug-Free Workplace

3200 - Medical Screening

3300 - Apprenticeships

3400 - Temporary Assignment

3500 - Classification Plan