Self-plus-one, one more chance …

How much time, energy and effort would you spend to save $600 this year? Senior Correspondent Mike Causey says many feds and retirees will have that option next...

If you could cut your expenses $500 to $600 this year, with a little paperwork would you do it? Or is it not worth the hassle?

Have you run the numbers to see how the brand-new self-plus-one (S+1) health plan option works for you, your spouse, partner or your single parent family? If not, why not?

If you are a family of two, it is worth considering the new option, because you will get another chance from Feb. 1 until Feb. 29. This is not like a traditional “open season” because the only choice for people who want to change is to move into the new self-plus-one option. Feds can switch through their own agency. Retirees must contact an OPM office in Kansas. But the special enrollment period is coming and you should be prepared. More on that in subsequent columns.

The new option is the middle ground between the traditional self-only-plans available to feds and retirees and the self-plus-family option. Up until this year, workers and retirees had only the two choices. Premiums for family plans were usually about double those for single coverage, regardless of whether your family size was two or 22.

Feds without children and retirees whose “kids” have aged out argued long and hard for the S+1 option. They figured premiums would be lower, even though many experts said otherwise.

Now that all the national and local HMO plans are offering the new S+1 option, it turns out there isn’t much difference in premiums between it and the regular family plan. But there is enough difference, in some plans, to make it worth shopping. Couple of examples:

  • Kaiser standard HMO, highly rated by Consumers Checkbook, this year will charge individuals with the self-only plan $1,400. The premium to you for S+1 coverage will be $3,160 and for regular family coverage you will pay $3,720 in premiums. Not a huge savings, but enough to make shopping worthwhile.
  • In the very popular Blue Cross basic plan, single coverage will be $1,780; the S+1 option will be $4,180 and the traditional family plan will cost subscribers $4,269 in premiums this year.

Health insurance expert Walton Francis said the special enrollment period for S+1 coverage offers feds and retirees a chance to save some money “$600 is not chump change.”

A Roth IRA On Steroids? Francis says the S+1 special enrollment period will also give you a chance to check out HD (high deductible) and CD (consumer driven) plans. Francis referred to them as “like a tax-free Roth IRA on steroids.” He said they can save you money, allow you to build a substantial tax-free nest egg and even pay your premiums. Too good to be true? Click here.

Nearly Useless Factoid

According to 365 Amazing Trivia Facts, the U.S. Army in 1959 ran Project Horizon, with the goal of creating a military base on the moon. During in the Cold War, the Army imagined a lunar base would be vital to protecting U.S. interests. Eventually, the project was abandoned.

Source: Wikipedia

Today’s NUF was submitted by reader Bob Carr. If you have a Nearly Useless Factoid you’d like to share, send it to Senior Web Editor Michael O’Connell via email. Be sure to include your name and a link to your source material.

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