Dump day delayed?

Thursday - 11/17/2011, 2:00am EST

Today, according to some people, is Dump Day. By close of business, if you follow this particular line of etiquette, you must either drop your significant other (husband, wife, partner, betrothed, boyfriend, girlfriend or FWB) or stick with them until at least early January.

(Don't blame me. I didn't make this up, I am just a humble reporter trying to get by).

The theory is that if you break up now, you as the Dumper and he or she, as the Dumpee, will have time to recover before the often stressful Christmas holidays. Also you don't have to take him/her to any family Thanksgiving celebration. Or buy them a Christmas or Hanukkah gifts. The money you will save on that romantic vacuum cleaner you were going to get her can be applied to, say, hockey tickets for another lucky young lady!

Fortunately for federal workers and retirees, their relationship with their current health plan doesn't have to be ended or renewed until mid-December. The D-day deadline for dumping or renewing your current health plan is close-of-business Dec. 12. Although premiums and benefits have already been announced (and won't change between now and D-day), many workers and retirees wait until the last minute and then stick with their current health plan. That's OK unless premiums are too high or your favorite doctor isn't participating in your plans network of preferred providers.

Walton Francis, the expert on the federal health program was our guest yesterday on our Your Turn radio show. If you missed it, want to hear it again or want to alert a friend, you can do it by clicking here.

His book, Checkbooks 2012 Guide to Federal Employees is available online at many federal agencies. You can also get it at: www.checkbook.org.

He will be our guest again during this open season. What he said yesterday, in brief, is this:

  • You buy health insurance to cover you if you are hit with a catastrophic illness or accident. Check the catastrophic limit (your maximum out-of-pocket payments) of the plans you are considering.

  • Be aware of the five-year rule. Generally speaking you must be covered by one of the FEHBP plans for the five-year prior to retirement. You can't piggyback on a private sector spouses health plan then switch to the more generous federal program unless you meet the five-year rule. To insure that you will be insured when you retire, he recommends you enroll in a low cost FEHBP plan — ike Mail Handlers Value Option, GEHA and Kaiswer standard option — this open season.

  • Be sure to elect a survivor annuity option for your spouse. If you die and your spouse receives no federal pension, he said, your spouse will lose FEHBP coverage forever. Also, if you die while enrolled in a self-only option, your spouse will also lose coverage.

  • You can get free or almost free health insurance, he said, from some FEHBP plans that "provide you a health savings account that is larger than your actual premium cost after taxes." For an overview of HSAs from benefits expert John Elliott, click here.
Over the next couple of weeks we'll have a series of columns listing "best buys" for you. Also Walt Francis will be back with us next Wednesday, 10 a.m. EST.


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

For all you coffee lovers, CNN reports, "Indonesia's velvety tasting brew, Kopi Luwak, gives new meaning to rich coffee. It can cost up to $50 per cup ... Kopi means coffee in Indonesian and Luwak is a wild Asian palm civet, a fury creature that looks like a cross between a cat and a ferret. The civet climbs the coffee trees to find the best berries, eats them, digests the berries and eventually out comes the coffee beans in its stools."


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