20-minute health plan planner

Senior Correspondent Mike Causey says you could save a lot of money next year on health insurance if you plan ahead

Odds are you are reading today’s post-holiday offering from one of three places:

  • At home where you are recovering from Thanksgiving dinner and all that went with it.
  • At work to get things done, escape from guests or on a four-day vacation costing only one day of annual leave.
  • In the hospital recovering from the results of something you ate or something somebody said for or against President Trump.

Wherever you are, it’s a good time to do a little shopping that could save you $1,000 to $2,000 next year in health insurance premiums or medical costs.  All you need to do is compare several plans —premiums, benefits, doctor networks — with your current plan. Maybe even stay in the same plan, but switch from its standard option to its basic option.

In many cases you could save a lot of money next year while getting the same, or better, coverage.

Things to look for:

  •  Catastrophic Coverage:  Check out the plans limit-to-you.  Meaning, the maximum amount you will have to pay out of pocket if the worst happened next year: A major illness or accident. Or both.  That’s the reason you buy health insurance.
  • Free Insurance:  Some of the Consumer Driven and High Deductible (CD and HD) health plans open up a savings account for year.  At the end of 2018 the account may be worth a lot more than the premiums and any out of pocket costs you made in the beginning.
  • Five-Year Rule:  If you are piggybacking on your private sector spouse’s health plan, that’s fine.  Until you (or your spouse) decide to retire and that health plan disappears. Then you will want to be in the FEHBP.  But you can’t take it into retirement unless you have been covered by one (any one) of the plans for the five years prior to retirement. So pick a plan with low premiums.  Think of it as buying insurance so you can have FEHBP insurance when you are retired.
  • Doc-in-Network:  Make sure your favorite doctor(s) are in the network of the plan you will be in next year. Or in one of the plans you are considering.  Best way to find out:  Call his or her office, speak to the top administrative person. They will know even if the doctor doesn’t.

Below are several recent columns featuring the expertise of  Walton Francis. He’s the long-time editor of Checkbooks Guide to Health Plans.

Also check out our Your Turn radio shows since the start of open season.  They are archived on our home page so you can listen or pass them along to a friend or coworkers.

Free Insurance: https://federalnewsradio.com/mike-causey-federal-report/2017/11/free-2018-health-insurance/

D (Decision) Day :  https://federalnewsradio.com/mike-causey-federal-report/2017/11/your-most-important-financial-decision

Follow The 5-Year Rule:  https://federalnewsradio.com/mike-causey-federal-report/2017/11/riding-your-spouses-health-plan-time-to-dismount/

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Steff Thomas

In the 1990s, a private collector made an attempt to insure a framed lock of Abraham Lincoln’s hair for over $35,000.

Source: Bloomberg

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