Monday madness checklist

Monday - 12/12/2011, 2:00am EST

If you showed up for work late, with one brown shoe and one black shoe or your skirt on backward , odds are you are one of the many people who still haven't picked your 2012 federal health plan. You are not alone.

No sweat, you've got until COB today. If you do nothing, or pick the wrong plan what's the worst that can happen? You pay an extra couple of thousand dollars in premiums or an extra $14,000 or so in out-of-pocket costs if 2012 is a bad medical year.

If you have done nothing, the plan you are in right now is the plan you will be in next year. That may be fine unless...

  1. Its premiums have skyrocketed (average increase this year is only 3.8 percent).

  2. Your favorite doctor is leaving your plan's network next month, or,

  3. You have a catastrophic event (illness or accident) next year that will force you to pay tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket until your insurance kicks in and takes over.
Walton Francis, editor of Checkbook's Guide to Health Plans says a single person 55 to 64 has a 9 percent chance next year of medical bills exceeding $25,000. For a couple, the odds jump to 17 percent. Would you get on a roller coaster if there was a 17 percent chance you wouldn't get off in one piece?

So what to do at this late date?

  • Your agency may have subscribed to Checkbook's online service which, among other things, lists best-buys based on your family status, age, medical status, etc. To find out if your agency is on the list, click here.

  • The Office of Personnel Management's health plan website is excellent. And free. You can look at plans, options and premiums. To view it, click here.
Also, review some of our recent columns on the subject. For instance: If you've done your shopping, relax. All the health plans are good. But some are better for you than others and some simply cost too much. So it pays to shop and, after today, you're set for another year.

Meantime, stay healthy and stay safe.


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

By Jack Moore

A woman from Limerick County, Ireland, has been blocked by Facebook from listing her hometown on her online profile. The name of her town: Effin. The woman told BBC News that "so many Effin people around the world," would like to add their hometown to their profile. "I'm a proud Effin woman and I always will be an Effin woman," she added.


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