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Shows & Panels
Give yourself a pay raise
Friday - 12/9/2011, 2:00am EST
- Change plans. Give yourself a raise by enrolling in a health plan with relatively low premiums (as in less than you are paying now or will pay next year). Checkbook Guide author Walton Francis recommends Blue Cross basic (rather than the standard plan), GEHA standard and a number of HD (high deductible) plans like APWU CDHP, GEHA HDHP and Aetna HDHP as well as HMOs like Kaiser, CareFirst Blue Choice high option and Aetna Open Access-Basic.
- Health Savings Account. Francis says HSA's are the equivalent of "a Roth IRA on steriods." They are offered by high-deductible (HD) plans which put money ($750 to $1,000 for self-only, on a tax free basis) in your account which is yours to use to pay for uncovered medical expenses, or to keep. In some instances the HSA setup in your name by the plan is more than the premiums you pay. GEHA, Aetna and Mail Handlers offer such plans.
- Flexible Spending Account. You can open an FSA or a Dependent Care Account. The money is taken from your paycheck on a pre-tax basis. You can use it to pay for medical items not covered by your health plan. The catch is that the FSA is a use-it-or-lose-it deal. Money unspent by you is kept by the company that handles the program.
- Go HMO. If you are in a fee-for-service plan you can sometimes save a lot of money, and paperwork, by joining a health maintenance organization. As with any health plan check with your doctor to see if he or she is part of their network. If so you can save money. Francis gives best-buy ratings to Kaiser, CareFirst Blue Choice high option, Aetna Open Access Basic and MD. IPA.
Good News/Bad News
The good news is that you still have until Monday to pick your 2012 health plan. The bad news is that is right away. If you don't pick a health plan you'll continue in your current plan. That may be fine, but it could also mean you will be ignoring the chance to save money and, maybe even make a couple of bucks on your health plan.
Last Minute Tips
NEARLY USELESS FACTOID
By Jack Moore
Ever see a movie where the character falls into a pit of molten lava and sinks away. A post on Wired tests the theory out (in a manner of speaking) and finds out, it ain't likely to happen. That's because lava's density and viscosity — its resistance to flow — are much different than water. So, if you do happen to fall into a pit of molten lava, you will likely float there on top — after bursting into flames.
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