Grass is always greener, unless you’re on the green side

How would you like to work for a place where management offered you a wide variety of (20 to 30) health plans? Plans with a wide range of premiums and where your employer pays 70 percent or more of the total premium, no matter how much it goes up each year.  Also, the company will pay for a top-notch, online guide to help you shop at home or on company time. Some deal, right?

Well guess what, odds are you do work for such a company.  It’s called the U.S. government, covering everything from the Postal Service to the IRS, CIA, NASA and the Railroad Retirement Board; with places like the Pentagon, Commerce and Interior Department, Justice, HHS, HUD and OPM also in the fold.

In addition to offering a wide array of health plans, coverage extends to retirees, their spouses, survivors, children up to age 26 (and older if dependent) and even to some ex-spouses, although they usually have to pay the full premium.

A growing number of agencies are finding it both cost efficient and employer-friendly to subscribe to Checkbook’s online version of its Guide to Federal Health Plans. In some cases the entire operation — like the Department of Education and Health and Human Services, GAO, Social Security, GPO, OPM and OSHA — have a subscription.

In others, like Defense and Agriculture, parts of the agency have subscribed while other parts haven’t. In that case people can subscribe on their own ($9.95). Or listen to Federal News Radio.

Some savvy outfits like the National Treasury Employees Union, American Foreign Service Association and the Professional Managers Association, subscribe for their members regardless of who they work for.  So somebody in your office may have a subscription even if you don’t. It comes with their dues.

Picking the best health plan for 2016 can save a single person up to $1,000 in premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Families and self-plus-one policy holders can save $1,000 in premiums if they pick the best plan. So how do you do that?  Stick with us for what’s coming.  And also check previous Federal Report columns (and broadcasts of Your Turn on radio) for advice from the pros.

Here are a couple to start with:

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Nearly Useless Factoid

By Meredith Somers

President Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first president of all 50 states. Hawaii, the 50th state, joined in 1959, during Eisenhower’s second term in office.

Source: Scholastic

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