When picking your 2015 FEHBP health plan there are three key numbers to know before you decide to stay with, or switch plans between now and Dec. 10.
The first number is easy. It’s the premium you will pay in each particular plan. That amount is guaranteed and nonnegotiable. If you sign up for a low-premium plan, like Kaiser HMO it will be about $1,180. Period. Even if you don’t use it.
If you sign up for a low-cost fee-for-service plan, like GEHA or Blue Cross basic, you will pay about $1,280 as long as you stay in their physician network.
If you go for a high deductible or consumer driven plan (which comes with a savings account) your premiums in the APWU CDHP and NALC CDHP will run $1,200 to $1,300. Both are sponsored by postal unions, but you don’t need to be a member or a postal worker to join either.
The second number you need to check out is what your total costs (premiums and out of pocket) are likely to be next year. CHECKBOOK’s Guide to Health Plans makes that easy. It lists all the plans available and also has estimates of your total expenses if you have low, medium, average or very high medical bills next year. For a single person with average expenses next year, CHECHBOOK estimates total expenses (including premiums) would range from the $1,400 to $1,900 figure for the plans listed above.
The final, and many say most important, number to consider is the plan’s catastrophic limit. The amount you would have to pay out of pocket if you have a catastrophic illness or accident in 2015. For singles that can range from $3,600 (Kaiser high option) to $7,970 in the NALC high option).
It is also critical to make sure that your favorite doctor is going to be in the PPO (preferred provider option) network of any plan you are considering. And double check because he/she may be in it now, but leaving it in 2015.
Married Feds: If the couple are feds, and one is working and one is retired be sure to have a family plan in the name of the working fed. Employees can pay their premiums in pre-tax dollars. Retirees can’t.
Checkbook Author Walton Francis was my guest yesterday on our Your Turn radio show. He has lots of great tips for maximizing your premium- dollar without going broke. And he has a special message for retirees on the issue of Medicare Part B. The show is archived on our home page. To listen, anytime, click here.
Yesterday’s NUF featured the most expensive price paid for a piece of U.S. currency — more than $2 million in 2006 for a $1,000 “Grand Watermelon” from 1890. Eagle-eyed reader Richard Patton of Harrisonburg, Pennsylvania, pointed out that the same bill was sold again on Jan. 10, for a world-record price of $3,290,000. Thanks for the tip, Richard!
VA to spend $60 million more on cyber after auditors’ continued concerns Steph Warren, VA’s CIO, said he moved money out of projects and into cybersecurity to ensure the agency gets rid of as many material weaknesses as they can. The decision to move money comes as Congress turns back up the heat on VA to correct long-standing and systemic cyber shortcomings.
Navy looks to open architectures, modular systems to build its fleet The Navy’s top officer says the rapid pace of technological change means his service has to find an alternative to a shipbuilding process that until recently has been characterized by large, monolithic acquisition programs — usually managed and integrated by a single vendor — and usually following exquisitely-detailed government specifications that take years to put down on paper.