Are you perfect in every way? If so, skip this...

Wednesday - 12/4/2013, 2:00am EST

If you are genuinely entitled to wear a Superman/Wonder Woman outfit, if you live and work in a germ-free hermetically-sealed bubble, if you don't drive and if your parents and grandparents all celebrated their 85th wedding anniversary in the bridal suite of your local Motel 6, you are free to go.

You can skip this column.

Instead, find the nearest mirror and feast your eyes upon a perfect specimen who never gets sick, never has accidents and leads a gluten-free, organic lifestyle following the caveman/woman/person diet.

If, however, you failed the above test on even one point, please listen up:

It's Open Season. You have until COB Monday to pick the health plan that will cover you and yours for the entire year of 2014. If you do nothing, which most people do each hunting season, you risk staying in a plan whose premiums are too high, whose catastrophic coverage is too low and which your doctor never heard of.

Picking the right health plan could save you $1,000 to $2,000 next year in premiums alone. That should help because your January pay raise (the first in four years) is limited to 1 percent.

Picking the right health plan could also save you literally tens of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs, based on the catastrophic coverage limits of the different plans. Why? Check this out.

Married federal couples could also save tons of money by enrolling in a family plan, instead of trying to save a few bucks on premiums with two self- only plans. Why? Check this out.

Making sure your doctor is in the network of the plan or plans you are considering is also a must. Unless you want to make a lot more out of pocket with each visit, or find yourself another doctor.

Although premiums for workers are going up 4.4 percent next year, that's an average. There are dozens of plans in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Some are holding the line. A couple are even reducing premiums, a little.

Do you know the difference between the two most popular plans: Blue Cross standard and Blue Cross basic? If not, you could be paying a lot more than necessary.

If you are over 65 and retired, do you need Medicare Part B coverage which can cost several hundred dollars month extra? Here's some advice from an expert.

Want personal advice? Tune in today at 10 a.m. when health insurance expert Walton Francis is our Your Turn radio show guest. Francis writes the Consumers' Checkbook Guide to Federal Health Plans. Many agencies have subscribed to the online version so you can shop at work. But where do you start? Francis will give a rundown of things you should, and should not, be doing.

Listen if you can (1500 AM or online), and if you have questions email them to me at mcausey@federalnewsradio.com or call in during the show at (202) 465-3080. The show will be archived here.


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

Compiled by Jack Moore

From Time:

"A person's chance of being attacked by a shark in the U.S. is 1 in 11.5 million, and the chance of being killed by a bite is less than 1 in 264.1 million. In New York alone, people are bitten 10 times more each year by other people than worldwide by sharks."


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