Ready, set, prepare to do nothing — again!

For American workers — federal and private — fortunate enough to have an employer-backed health package, this is open season. Active and retired feds have until close of business Dec. 14 to pick their 2016 health plan. This is one of those times when doing nothing is something. Sometimes something really dumb!

When it comes to shopping for health insurance, federal workers and private sector types have one thing in common: Most don’t. They stay...

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For American workers — federal and private — fortunate enough to have an employer-backed health package, this is open season. Active and retired feds have until close of business Dec. 14 to pick their 2016 health plan. This is one of those times when doing nothing is something. Sometimes something really dumb!

When it comes to shopping for health insurance, federal workers and private sector types have one thing in common: Most don’t. They stay in the same plan year after year even though their needs, and their health plan, may have changed drastically.

Doing nothing can be a problem for private sector people. But doing nothing, if you are an active or retired fed, without shopping is, uh, not very smart.

Health plan shopping is both easier and more difficult for feds than for most people. Because …

Generally speaking, federal workers/retirees have lots more choices than people in the private sector. Most government types have 20 or more choices. In the D.C. area there are 33 different plans and options. Blue Cross-Blue Shield has two options (standard and basic) that are similar in coverage but very different in premiums. GEHA, another popular and highly-rated plan also offers two very different options. One is an HD (as in high deductible) plan. Health insurance expert Walton Francis says the HD plans has described as “a Roth IRA on steroids.” And there are eight of them to consider.

Francis edits the Consumer Checkbook Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees. Many agencies have subscribed to Checkbook’s on-line version for their employees. To find out if your agency is one of them, click here.

If you’d like a one-on-one with Walt Francis tomorrow is your chance. He’ll be my guest Wednesday (10 a.m. EST) on our Your Turn radio show. Immediately after the show we will participate in an online chat. You can join us by clicking here.

If you have picked a plan (or even started shopping) there is still time. What you may need is a reason not to do nothing. Remember you are buying health insurance to protect yourself from catastrophic medical bills if the worst happens in 2016. You also want a plan that includes your doctor in its network. And there is no need to pay twice as much in premiums when changing options — while remaining in the same plan — can save you a bundle.

Here’s a quick checklist to help get you started.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Michael O’Connell

“Rabbit Fire”, the 1951 Looney Tunes short, is the first installment in Chuck Jones’ “hunting trilogy”, in which Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck argue about whether it is rabbit season or duck season.

Source: Wikipedia

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