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SOURCE Parker, Smith & Feek
SEATTLE, Sept. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Companies are constantly searching for top talent and have found a valuable resource in foreign workers eager to come to the U.S. for the chance to get experience and potentially citizenship. However, cultural obstacles are a cause for concern by human resources and operations professionals. The employee may be confounded to learn there are out-of-pocket costs to pay premiums and deductibles in the company's health insurance plan.
How do we explain company health benefits to a person from a place where healthcare is provided by the government?
The Advantages for Employees Are Found In the Differences
Here are some issues HR and operations professionals should keep in mind when bringing clarity to their benefits package:
Familiarity – Universal healthcare is pretty common all over the world, but every country's policy is different. Take a moment to look over the policy in the worker's home country using this guide.
You will find India has a universal healthcare system, but the difference in care between rural and urban facilities are extreme. In contrast, French citizens enjoy mobile doctors who visit their homes.
Our advice is, don't try to compete with their home healthcare systems. Instead, highlight better care. Access to preventative surgeries and alternative care (such as physical and mental therapy) are just two areas where socialized healthcare in other countries generally falls woefully short.
Family – H1B visas and most benefits plans can include spouses and dependent children under 21. One of the biggest questions asked by foreign workers is, "Can my parents be added onto my benefits?" The answer is almost always, "No." H1B rules prohibit elder dependents. Parents who receive immigration visas are eligible for a qualified health plan (QHP) from state insurance exchanges.
Dental – Many international healthcare systems don't cover dental procedures outside of emergencies.
Vision – Most socialized programs cover vision, but offer very little in choices of frames and generally exclude contact lenses.
Tuition – Corporate tuition reimbursement in the U.S. usually can't compete on price with foreign government subsidies. However, tuition reimbursement programs do offer better access to U.S. universities, some of the best institutions in the world.
Retirement Planning – Stable social safety nets offer a fairly robust pension plan that generally exceeds the benefits offered by Social Security and Medicare. However, lower U.S. tax rates allow workers to add more to personal retirement accounts. When explaining 401k employer matching plans and IRA accounts, point out:
Paid Vacation – The U.S. average is 25 paid days off with holidays. In most European countries, workers enjoy government mandated 38 - 40 paid days including holidays, regardless of their profession. India has a minimum of 12 days vacation, plus 16 paid holidays.
Paid vacation is an uphill climb for HR professionals. Long hours and fewer vacations is a fact that H1B workers are generally aware of.
Simplify – Simplify your employee benefits packet and retool it for foreign new hires. Even the strongest benefits plan can be misunderstood and underappreciated.
The Greatest Benefit of All?
Just having a compassionate person who can discreetly help H1B recruits traverse healthcare systems is one of the best retention tools a company can have. It separates your company from many foreign companies and socialized bureaucracies. A company that is culturally accommodating has an enticing appeal to new recruits and can start some excellent international word-of-mouth.
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