As a working nanny, staying healthy is crucial to doing a good job. The job is physically demanding, and over time that stress and wear can have a marked impact on your body, mood and behavior. Preventive healthcare is usually associated with medical insurance coverage, especially the kind provided by an employer, but there are a few things you need to know about health insurance before you accept your next nanny job.
Your Employer Doesn’t Have to Provide It
Each state has different rules for workers compensation coverage that must be provided by an employer, but that just deals with medical benefits and wage replacement in the event of a workplace accident (e.g., slipping and falling, or hurting yourself in a work activity). It’s not at all the same thing as health insurance, which deals with preventive care, medications and other procedures. Health insurance is a perk, not a right, and it’s offered at an employer’s discretion.
What that means for you: Health insurance should be a major part of your conversation with potential employers during the interview process. You don’t have to bring it up right away if you don’t want to; see if you and the employer are a good fit and then transition talks into benefits and other parts of the job. However, it’s vital to make sure you talk about this before accepting a position.
Employer Contributions to Your Premiums Aren’t Taxed
In other words, any money your employer puts toward the cost of your premium doesn’t count as your income (since, obviously, it’s skipping you and going right to the insurer), which means that they don’t have to pay the relevant 10% employment tax on those funds. What’s more, you don’t have to pay Social Security, Medicare or regular income tax on that amount, either, since it’s never marked as your income. Recent healthcare reforms also provide a tax credit to employers (e.g., at a salary of $25,000 per year for the nanny, employers get a tax credit for 35% of their contribution toward health insurance).
What that means for you: Paying money into a premium can be a nice incentive for employers to save on their tax bill. They’re already paying you a certain amount; by paying an additional amount toward a premium, they can reduce their tax burden.
It’s Unwise Not to Have Health Insurance
This is probably the biggest issue, and the one that will most likely be a deal breaker when you’re looking for a good nanny job that will provide you with the proper compensation and perks, as well as room to grow and succeed. Going without health insurance is just plain risky.
It’s estimated that 45 million Americans are uninsured, a number that takes a larger toll on lower-income workers than any other group. That means a huge number of people don’t have the coverage they need to stay healthy, which means they forego preventive medical care, regular check-ups and the kind of standard visits that those with proper coverage can take for granted.
Health insurance is what makes it affordable to get preventive treatment and deal with illnesses that crop up. If you aren’t getting regular preventive treatment and aren’t able to deal with sickness in due course, you won’t be able to do your job. Keeping up with kids and helping to run a household is a demanding role, and being unable to properly treat yourself will keep you from doing your job to the best of your abilities. Your work suffers, your employers’ routine suffers and the kids get caught in the middle. All because it’s hard for you to get to the doctor.
According to a 2011 survey conducted by the International Nanny Association, 16% of full-time nannies said they had their health insurance premiums covered entirely by their employer, and 10% said they had half their costs covered. Those numbers can fluctuate by employer and location, and it’s also possible for employers to contribute different amounts. In other words, it’s an important thing for many nannies and employers. It keeps nannies healthy and stable in their jobs, and it lets employers rely on the nannies to be fit for work.
Do you have to have health insurance as a nanny? No. It’s still your call. However, given the downsides of not having it, you’d be taking a major risk to pass up those benefits. If you don’t have benefits, consider talking with your employer about adding them. If you’re looking for a nanny job, don’t be afraid to ask for health coverage. It’s a little expense that goes a long way.