Finding Hidden Treasures In Employee Benefits

(CBS) — From new student loan benefits to underused health plans, employees might be missing out on hundreds, even thousands of dollars, in savings every year.

CBS 2 Cost Cutter Dorothy Tucker shows you perks you might be wasting.

Employees love their health plans, but often ignore flexible spending accounts. This is money withheld before taxes that can be used for health-related costs such as over-the-counter drugs, co-pays and deductibles.

“Fifteen hundred dollars is like having $1900 to spend on medical expenses,” says Accenture’s Kaveh Safavi.

Commuter benefits are another often-ignored perk.

Tucker, for example, takes the bus to work. By signing up for a company-sponsored program, she could save $144 a year. A colleague who takes Metra could save even more: $630.

Companies are starting to offer student loan repayment plans, through benefit managers like Peanut Butter.

“When companies contribute just $100 a month that same employee is able to save $11,000 in principal and interest and get out of debt in 7 years instead of 10,” Peanut Butter CEO Dave Aronson says.

Emily Sloan works at Medix.and takes full advantage of the benefit.

Keep in mind: Flexible Spending Accounts have to be used up every year.

As for student loan repayment or refinancing programs, only 22 percent of companies offer them now. But 72 percent are interested in offering the benefit in the future. Ask your employer to look into that perk.

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