Last chance ever to pocket $5K now

Hundreds, maybe thousands of federal workers are holding the equivalent of a jackpot lottery ticket, but they better cash it in quickly, says Senior Corresponde...

So, are you holding the equivalent of a winning lottery ticket?

Are you one of the lucky thousands who could save anywhere from $100 to more than $5,000 in health plan premiums this year? It’s definitely worth checking out: Provided you do it by Monday of next week.

What’s the deal? And why the rush? Think about those mega-million dollar lotteries:

When most people buy a lottery ticket they probably focus on winning the jackpot. What they’ll do with a couple of million extra dollars. And who they will (and won’t) be doing it with.

The jackpot is why people buy lottery tickets. But there are other cash prizes in most lottery drawings that often go uncollected. For whatever reason, people may have a winning combination of numbers. Short of the multi-million payout but still free money. Within their grasp. Which naturally brings us to the current (as in first and probably last) extended, limited enrollment period for some very lucky feds. This limited enrollment period ends on Monday.

Between now and COB on Monday federal workers in two-person families who are enrolled in a family plan can switch to that plan’s new self-plus-one option. A two-person family can be a couple or a single parent with a child. Up until this year, feds and retirees in families of two (or more) had to enroll in family coverage. Premiums for that two-person family were the same as premiums for a family of five, 10 or 15. The new self-plus-one option was set up for two-person families. And premiums are all over the place. Some self-plus-one plans will permit people to save a lot of money. In the MD-IPA plan, for example, the premium for a family (of two or more people) this year is $8,870. But if they move from the family plan into the self-plus-one option, their premium for 2016 will drop to $3,760. That $5,000 plus savings is money you won’t pay out for family coverage.

The savings are less dramatic, but still worthwhile, in a number of other FEHB plans. Kaiser standard’s premium for self-plus-one coverage is $3,160 this year compared to $3,270 for the Kaiser standard family plan. Not enough to take a trip to Europe, but still a savings.

The CareFirst standard plan’s family premium this year is $5,070. Those who could downsize to the self-plus-one option would pay only $3,740. Same coverage, same benefits, same doctors. And a savings of almost $2,000 per year.

Two-person families can also save some premiums if they are in their plan’s family option, and they switch to its self-plus-one option. Those plans include the APWU (American Postal Workers Union) CDHP plan, the SAMBA high option plan, GEHA’s standard. Blue Cross-Blue Shields popular and highly-rated plan will cost families $4,270 this year while its self-plus-one option will be $4,180. Not a king’s ransom, but worth considering.

Saving money — or at least learning if you could save money — isn’t rocket science. The extended enrollment period is limited to people in two-person families. And they can only switch from their current plans’ family option into the plans’ self-plus-one option. So if you do well under deadlines, at least check it out. You could save big bucks. And this is a once-in-a-lifetime offer, and the deadline is Monday. Good hunting.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Michael O’Connell

The phrase “second banana” refers to a comic who supports the lead comedian, possibly as a straight man, in burlesque or vaudeville.


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