Is most popular health plan best for you?

If you put 10 different federal workers, from 10 different agencies and 10 different cities in the same room, odds are six of them (at least) will be in the Blue Cross-Blue Shield health plan.

If you do the same thing with a random group of retired feds — again from 10 different agencies and 10 different cities — odds are eight of them, at least, will be in Blue Cross-Blue Shield too. Maybe more.

So is that a good thing? For some yes. For others, the answer is no.

The Government Accountability Office says that in 2015, Blue Cross-Blue Shield was the primary insurance carrier for federal workers and retirees in most of the nation’s counties. BC-BS was the largest carrier in 98 percent of the counties in 2015, according to GAO. So, are we detecting a pattern here? And if so, what does it mean?

Something. Or nothing?

Probably something. Just not entirely sure what. Unless …

Unless it could be that so many so-called “heavy users” — usually older retirees taking lots of medicine — are heavily concentrated into one plan, meaning younger, healthier workers in the same plan are probably paying more than they need to pay in premiums. And, with the health insurance open season coming up next week, the 94 percent who don’t change plans every year need to get on the stick.

Each year, Uncle Sam provides a lengthy and costly open season when workers, retirees, survivors and in some cases ex-spouses can review their health insurance coverage for the coming year. Many federal agencies even subscribe to an online service (Consumers’ Checkbook Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees) that employees can use while on the clock. Yet year after year, only six of every 100 people switch plans.

Most years, a few new plans are added to the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program. GAO, whose employees are also covered by it too,  said the number of plans has been growing. But rather than adding more and more plans, maybe workers and retirees should check out the options they already have. In many cases, they can get the same, sometimes even better, coverage for a lower premium. So, are more plans the answer?

The people who do shop around tend to be younger, generally healthier workers. They look for good coverage at a low premium and often — because of their age and health — they don’t cost their insurance company much.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Michael O’Connell

The pneumatic cannon “Big 10 inch” holds the world record for chucking a pumpkin. It broke the record on Sept. 9, 2010, in Moab, Utah, by sending a pumpkin 5,545.43 feet.

Source: Wikipedia

Read more of Mike Causey’s Federal Report

Related Stories

Comments

Your Turn with Mike Causey

WEDNESDAYS at 10 A.M.

Learn about everything from pay, benefits and retirement, to buyouts, COLAs and pay freezes. Call the show live Wednesdays from 10-11 a.m. at 202-465-3080 with your questions. Dial 605-562-0264 to listen live from any phone. Follow Mike on Twitter and send him an email with your questions and comments. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Podcast One.

Sign up for breaking news alerts

THRIFT SAVINGS PLAN TICKER

Sep 24, 2021 Close Change YTD*
L Income 23.2215 -0.0094 4.43%
L 2025 12.0371 -0.0091 8.33%
L 2030 42.6114 -0.0422 10.54%
L 2035 12.8142 -0.0141 11.50%
L 2040 48.5542 -0.0585 12.46%
L 2045 13.3168 -0.0175 13.28%
L 2050 29.2066 -0.0408 14.12%
L 2055 14.4012 -0.0223 17.18%
L 2060 14.4012 -0.0222 17.18%
L 2065 14.4012 -0.0222 17.18%
G Fund 16.6687 0.0006 0.88%
F Fund 20.9835 -0.0368 -0.55%
C Fund 67.0131 0.0988 21.56%
S Fund 85.4976 -0.3354 16.31%
I Fund 39.3441 -0.193 11.70%
Closing price updated at approx 6pm ET each business day. More at tsp.gov
* YTD data is updated on the last day of the month.