Another tough year for feds

Does your brain feel like mush? Still trying to figure out how to pay higher health and long-term care insurance premiums with the 1 percent pay raise, or 0.3 percent cost of living adjustment retirees will see in January?

Are you accustomed to regular shutdown threats because Congress can’t or won’t do its basic job , or do you sweat each deadline knowing that while it probably won’t happen, it could and has in the past?

Did the nightmarish (no matter who you backed) 2016 presidential race do a number on you and your family? If there had been a none-of-the-above box on the ballot, would you have checked that?

One sliver of good news. The health insurance hunting season for federal workers, retirees and survivors is almost over. This time next week it will be just another bad, fast-fading memory. The good news is that all of the health plans are good. You can hardly go wrong, although you can pay too much in premiums if you fail to shop. The other good news is that the government will pay the bulk of your premiums. It will pay about 72 percent for regular feds and retirees, and about 75 percent for active duty postal workers.

For the past few weeks, we’ve been educating (OK, nagging) you to get off your backside and compare health plans. Premiums for people with self-only coverage range from as little as $1,300 to as much as $4,470. That’s the amount to you, after the government has paid the lion’s share. For those who need family coverage (three or more people), the premiums range from a low of about $3,400 (Kaiser standard) to as much as $11,430 for the SAMBA high option. Big difference.

People in the most popular plan, Blue Cross-Blue shield, next year will pay $4,510 in the basic plan self-only option or $6,610 if they chose the standard option. Which is better. For many the basic plan is excellent. And less costly. And there are a number of plans, according to health insurance expert Walton Francis, that are as good — or better — than the Blue’s options even though both of them are excellent.

The question, when shopping for insurance, is what do you want, what will you likely need, what can you afford to pay in premiums and the catastrophic coverage (out-of-pocket limit to you) in the plan or plans you are considering?

We’ve tried to cover all topics, both here in this column, with news stories and features on Federal News Radio and with individual reports.

Medicare Part B: Got questions? Do you need it?

An IRA On Steroids: Interested in a health plan that might pay you, or one that funds a tax-free savings/investment account for you?

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Nearly Useless Factoid

By Michael O’Connell

A soprano ukulele has between 12-15 frets.

Source: Ukelele Tricks