Two can live as cheaply as one if …

Contrary to what some cynics say, two can in fact live as cheaply as one. Provided, that is, that both of you are flexible. All it takes is:

  • For one of you to be a federal worker. Or a postal employee. Or a federal retiree or the survivor of a fed.
  • You each have discipline. As in agreeing to eat only once a day every third day.
  • You two can agree on a basic and common wardrobe. That is either dresses (or a kilt) , or pants and a shirt. Keep it simple keeps it cheap.
  • You pick the right-for-you health plan during the open season which, by the way, closes a week from Monday. So you still have time, just not much.

Some fed couples try to save money by each purchasing a self-only plan. The total premium will be less, but that could be a problem if both of you have a major illness, or accident next year. If that does happen you two will have two separate deductibles that are often higher than the single deductible in a family plan. The deductible is the amount you will have to pay out of pocket in a worst case scenario.

HMOs (health maintenance organizations) tend to have lower, in some cases much lower, deductibles than fee-for-service plans. But you need to shop around. Your agency may have taken the first steps for you. More than a dozen — ranging from entire departments and agencies — Labor, Justice, Interior, HHS, Education, GSA, GPO, FDIC, Federal Reserve Board and the GAO and CBO — have subscribed to the online Consumer’s CHECKBOOK’s Guide to Federal Health Plans. You can shop online, and on company-time, to find the best deal or deals for you.

If you want direct service, listen to our Your Turn radio show today at 10 a.m. EST. Walton Francis, author of CHECKBOOK’s Guide is my guest. You can talk to him directly during the show at 202-465-3080. Or email questions to me (before showtime) at



By Michael O’Connell

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