Many federal workers and most federal retirees have been with their Blue Cross Blue Shield federal health plan longer than they’ve been with their current spouses — not that there is anything wrong with that. But the fact that the various health plans have been so good for so long means that many people in them haven’t bothered to shop around for maybe a better deal during the annual health insurance open enrollment period that ends Dec. 10.
If you do nothing, which covers most people in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, it means you will remain in your current plan next year. Even if its benefits change, its premiums go up and there are better options that will give you equal coverage at a lower premium in 2019, in some cases much lower.
There are a number of options to Blue Cross Blue Shield in both the national fee-for-service plans and local health maintenance organizations. Feds in the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore region have 30 plans and options to choose from.
Health insurance guru Walton Francis recommends feds and retirees check out several plans and see which has the best catastrophic coverage (amount you will pay out of pocket), which include your doctor(s) in their network and which have the best premium deal. He is the author of Checkbook’s Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees. Many federal agencies have subscribed to Checkbook’s online version so people can shop at work.
He also recommended that long-time Blue Cross Blue Shield fans check out a new option this year. FEP Blue Cross Focus. Its premiums are lower than Blue Cross Blue Shield basic and much lower than Blue Cross standard, yet many people would get roughly the same coverage.
Francis will be my guest on Wednesday’s Your Turn radio show at 10 a.m. EDT. Listen online or on 1500 AM in the Washington area. If you have questions for him send them to email@example.com before showtime.
The episode will be archived on our show page. But be sure you catch it before the open season closes.
George Underwood, the artist who created David Bowie’s album covers for “Hunky Dory” and “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” is also responsible for Bowie’s different colored eyes. As childhood friends, Underwood punched Bowie in the left eye which paralyzed the pupil.