Dull Can Be Beautiful

Tired of those \'The End Is Near\' reports from TV, radio and your hometown newspaper? Mike Causey says, the end isn\'t even close.

Most of the news media: TV, radio and print — in just about that order — spend much of their time scaring the liver out of viewers, listeners and readers.

It may be local weather (it’s either too hot or too cold, to wet or too dry) or crime. Or it may be some disaster, reported in breathless tones, in some remote place most of us couldn’t find on a map. Or the impact of global warming/cooling on blind mole rats.

Whatever . . .

I recently heard a radio shoutfest with a man and a woman talking about the FBI crime statistics which, as reported in the media, lists Detroit and St. Louis as the most dangerous places in America. Like if you want to get killed check into a motel in either town. Or just walk down the street.

The woman said it was a darned shame. People killing people and all. Like there oughta be a law.

The man said the stats were bogus. That, if you read carefully, you would see that Washington, D.C., and Baltimore (which happen to be in their broadcast area) are really the Murder Capitals USA. I suspect the same debate and conclusions were being reached in Atlanta, Houston, and Council Bluffs.

The point being is no matter how safe and healthy and content you are, you are seconds away from being toast.

Which is why it is nice to be on this end of the news business. We try to keep you informed without making everything a Red Alert. We are also aware that what would strike most red-blooded newies as dull (pay, fringe benefits, retirement choices, health plans, etc.) is very important when it impacts you.

Not us, but you.

So here’s a gentle nag to remind you that the benefits open season ends December 10th. It’s when you pick your health plan for 2008, renew or sign up for a Flexible Spending Account, pick-or-not one of the optional vision or dental plans being offered.

Experts say that anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of the federal-retiree population probably should change health plans each year. In fact fewer than 6 percent actually do it.

It’s not the end of civilization as we know it if you do nothing. No body parts will fall off. But picking the best health plan for you and yours can save you money next year (in premiums and out of pocket costs) in most cases. It can also give you the all-important best catastrophic coverage which you will need if you or a family member has a stroke, heart attack, gets cancer or falls off a ladder or gets hit by a bus.

So here are some places to go for best buys for insurance, for the real world (not the panic version) of life during a furlough, and an explanation of why it is too late to retire and get the 2.3 percent cost of living adjustment due CSRS retirees in January.

Check it out: It’s important and non life-threatening.

First, guidance in picking the best health plan if you are:

  • Single
  • Married
  • Worried About Being Furloughed
  • Qualifying for the Retiree COLA
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