Pay less, get more health plan(s)

If you could find a health plan that would save you $1,000 next year in premiums and out-of-pocket costs, would you spend 30 minutes slaving over a hot computer, or checking out several brochures to find it?

What if you could do the research and comparison shopping without any cost to you? What if you could do it at the office and on Uncle Sam’s time? So, are you in?

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Well, for hundreds of thousands of active and retired federal and postal workers the opportunity to pay less and get more is there. The health insurance hunting season runs through Dec. 10. If you don’t change plans you will remain in your current plan which, if benefits change or premiums go up big time, could be a mistake.

The extra good news is that premiums next year are going up an average of 1.5 percent. That’s a much smaller increase than in most previous years. On top of that retirees are guaranteed a cost of living adjustment of 2.8 percent for the majority who are under the Civil Service Retirement System retirement plan, or 2 percent if you retired under the Federal Employees Retirement System. And while there is no guarantee, it is possible that white collar federal workers will get a January pay increase of 1.9 percent.

The not-so-good news is that the same option to shop and save was also available during the November-December open season last year, in 2017, 2015 and 2014. Despite the incentives to shop around and change health plans, only about six of every 100 people in the giant federal health program switch plans each year. And often they are the same people, healthy young singles and couples without children who are trying to save money, and who feel comfortable making changes.

So where do you start?

How about tuning in to Wednesday’s Your Turn radio show at 10 a.m. EDT. My guest is Walton Francis.

He’s considered the expert on the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program and literally wrote the book: “Checkbook’s Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees.” In addition to the book, published by Washington Consumers Checkbook, there is the very popular online shopping guide. Many agencies subscribe to it for employees so they can shop at work, compare benefits and premiums, and make sure their doctors will be in their plan networks next year.

Listen at www.federalnewsnetwork.com or in the Washington, D.C. area at 1500 AM. Shows will be archived for future listening and questions for Francis to answer on-air may be sent before showtime to mcausey@federalnewsnetwork.com.

Happy hunting!

Questions about TRICARE’s first-ever open season? We’re listening.

As Federal News Network reported last week, the Defense Department is currently holding its first-ever open season for TRICARE to let recipients pick between two healthcare plans. DoD said it is a better way for beneficiaries to pick their healthcare plan, but some military family advocates fear it could leave participants stuck in a lackluster plan.

TRICARE Chief Patrick Grady will speak with Mike Causey later this week and we want to hear from you. Send any questions on TRICARE for Grady to mcausey@federalnewsnetwork.com now until noon on Thursday, Nov. 15 for the chance to get your answer on the air.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

Manhole covers in Monaco are welded down prior to Formula 1 races due to several cases of the grates being sucked out of the ground by cars and striking vehicles.

Source: Autosport