Article

Opening Lines

LOOKING BEYOND THE PAYCHECK

Think of total compensation ... after taxes

Just as it would be ill-advised to evaluate a new car based on one reading, such as tire pressure, it would be misleading to judge employment compensation based solely on salary. That’s because total compensation can be impacted by a host of benefits and other non-salary factors, such as the cost of commuting to work.

“People will leave us for $1 more an hour, only to have a 60-mile one-way commute,” says Ray Mays, practice administrator of Eye Centers of Tennessee, Crossville, TN. “In almost every instance, they come back.” (That one-way commute can easily cost more than $5 in fuel expenses alone.)

A number of other factors shape compensation, including insurance (health and life), retirement plans, paid vacation, training and education, meals, and uniform allowances.

Mr. Mays agrees employees should understand their total compensation “and even more important is after-tax compensation, especially in high-tax states.”

Take time to do the math

To understand the after-tax rate, add social security/Medicare deductions to state, local, and federal taxes. “Everyone is in a different situation, but let’s just say that all in, an employee will lose 20% to deductions. So, if you are paid $10 per hour, for example, you would earn $8 in actual after-tax spending,” says Mr. Mays. (Or, $10 x 20% = $2 in deductions for every $10.) “If you spend $10 per day for lunch, or $50 per week, divide the $50 by $8 (the actual after-tax earnings per hour) and you get 6.25 hours. That is, it costs you 6.25 hours of labor to generate $50 of after-tax income. If lunch is provided, you actually earn $50 more per week.” (See Figure 1 for an example of an after-tax pay and benefits calculation.)

FIGURE 1. Example of After-Tax Pay and Benefits Calculation

Make sure it all adds up

Mr. Mays says that same formula can apply to benefits, including health insurance, 401(k) matches, uniforms, continuing education. Many employees focus only on the hourly rate and ignore the value of the benefit package. They are encouraged to view the totality of their pay and benefits on a pre- and after-tax basis. Of course, there’s more to job satisfaction than pay, but when it comes time to understand compensation, “financial illiteracy can be very expensive,” says Mr. Mays.

In Brief

  • Heidelberg Engineering introduced the “Glaucoma Imaging Atlas,” a diagnostic imaging guide for glaucoma assessment and management. The company says the Atlas will serve as the cornerstone of Heidelberg Engineering Academy’s glaucoma educational programs.
  • Quantel Medical’s new generation Compact Touch opthalmic ultrasound platform received FDA approval. The platform features a 15 MHz BB probe, DICOM compatibility, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, and HDMI video output.
  • Oasis introduced a pen-style inserter for use with its Soft Plug silicone punctum plugs. The inserter is designed to be cradled between the index and thumb with the punctum plug release button positioned beneath the finger.
  • Karen Bachman, COMT, COE, OCS, was named 2018-2019 American Society of Ophthalmic Administrators (ASOA) president. Ms. Bachman is the practice administrator at Richens Eye Center in St. George, UT. She follows William T. Koch, COA, COE, CPC, outgoing ASOA president.
  • Allergan launched TrueTear, the first and only FDA-cleared device developed to temporarily increase tear production during neurostimulation in adult patients. TrueTear, which was shown two be safe and effective in two clinical trials, induces the production of natural tears after insertion into the nasal cavity.
  • The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS), the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), and the Outpatient Ophthalmic Surgery Society (OOSS) released new specialty-specific guidelines for the sterile processing of ophthalmic surgical instruments in ASCs. This document makes evidence-based recommendations regarding the cleaning and sterilization of intraocular instrumentation. (To read these guidelines, see tinyurl.com/OPMay18Guidelines .)