The single life: Celebrating Open Season

Thursday - 11/14/2013, 2:00am EST

For the next six weeks, the happiest people in the federal government are those workers who, for whatever reason, are not married. Solitary confinement has never been so rewarding!

The only pitter-patter of little feet around the house of a singleton is a dog or cat. If you are awakened by loud snoring, there is no one to blame but yourself.

Being single can be lonely! However, when you are shopping for health insurance — especially when you have a wide range of choices — being the Lone Ranger has its moments. If you are single, there is only one person whose health you must consider: Yours.

Shopping single means there is no one to argue with over premiums, coverage or the location or personality of your doctor. If you want fee-for- service, go for it. If an HMO is your thing, so be it. Because you decide. You are the one. The best plan available for the 2014 year is the one you think is best for you and only you: The one with the best premiums, the best catastrophic coverage, the best prescription drug benefit (if needed) and the one where your doctor or doctors is in the network.

Walton Francis, editor of the Consumers' Checkbook Guide to Federal Health Plans 2014, says the good news for workers, retirees and survivors is that all the FEHBP plans are good. But some are too expensive. He says most people can save $1,000 to $2,000 next year (just in premiums) by picking the right plan at the right prices. Francis was our guest on our Your Turn radio show yesterday. He answered questions about the best buys for young and older workers, for people with Tricare and Medicare, and what to look for when you are hunting. The open enrollment period ends Dec. 9.

The mistake most people make is doing nothing. The majority of workers (and especially retirees) stay in the same plans year after year. Many could get the same (sometimes better) coverage, he said, by switching to a less costly alternative.

Checkbook ranks plans based on premiums and your likely out-of-pocket costs if you have a good, average or bad medical year. So the dollar figure in the ranking below will show what you pay in total in each plan if you have an average year. Obviously it would be more if you have a bad year, and less if you didn't use insurance or didn't use it much. The rankings here are for singles who are 55 and under. Out of pocket costs would be higher for older workers and retirees, but the order is generally the same. Here are the rankings for fee- for-service plans

  • Blue Cross basic ($1,900 in premiums and out of pocket costs for an average medical year).

  • GEHA standard, ($1,930); Foreign Service, ($1980); NALC high option, ($2050); APWU high option, ($2100); Compass Rose, ($2200); and SAMBA standard, $2240).
Other plans are also excellent but the premiums and out of pocket expenses are higher. But they may still be the best deal for you.

The print copy of the guide is available in many Washington area stores for $9.95. You can also order it by mail by calling (202) 347-7283, or online for $12.95 to cover shipping costs.

You can listen to Wednesday's Your Turn show by clicking here. Coming up will be a series of columns for families, large and small, people over 55, retirees with and without Medicare and for people who use a spouse's private health plan but should also have coverage under the FEHB program.


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

Compiled by Jack Moore

Laura Ingalls Wilder, the famous children's book author of the Little House on the Prairie series, didn't have her first book published until she was 65.

(Source: 11 Points)


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