Happiness is Being Single... Up to a Point

Thursday - 11/20/2008, 4:00am EST

When it comes to picking the best health insurance deal, single federal workers have it easy compared to couples, families with lots of kids, and retirees. Singles only have one person to worry about: Themselves.

So what are the best-buys available during the current FEHBP open enrollment period? The answer is that it depends. It depends on the coverage you think you need, the premiums you are willing to pay, the catastrophic limit (your out-of-pocket limits) of the plan, and whether you want a nationwide fee-for-service plan (like GEHA, SAMBA or Blue Cross) or whether you like the lower-premiums, low deductibles and the managed care aspect of a Health Maintenance Organization.

Walton Francis, editor of CHECKBOOK's Guide to Federal Health Plans says singles can save $1,000 or more next year by picking the best plan for them. His rating system takes into account the premium you will pay next year in each plan, plus your likely total costs (premiums and out of pocket expenses to you) for people with few expenses, heavy expenses or average expenses.

Today we'll look at fee-for-service and HMOs for a single person with average medical expenses next year. The dollar totals include your premium plus uncovered costs to you.

Fee For Service Plans
APWU Consumer-Driven plan, $650; Mail Handlers High Deductible plan, $1,270; GEHA HD plan, $1,320; Blue Cross Basic, $1,530; Foreign Service, $1,600; GEHA standard, $1,700; Mail Handlers Value, $1,760; and SAMBA standard, $1,810. Remember these numbers assume you use the doctors in the plan network.

HMOs
Francis suggests singles look at Aetna CD health plan, $500; United Health Care CD plan, $900; Aetna High deductible plan, $1,090; Kaiser standard, $1,160; Coventry high deductible, $1,270; and United Health Care high deductible, $1,300. Even plans with a relatively high premium (such as MD-IPA at $1,470 and CareFirst Blue Choice at $1,500) often cost less than many fee-for-service plans.

Postal Workers

Thanks to their union contracts, rank-and-file USPS employees pay much lower premiums than their white collar counterparts. That's because the USPS picks up a larger share of the premium. Coming up we'll have the best buys for postal workers.

Got Health Plan Questions?

We may have the answers. Walton Francis has appeared on the last two Your Turn with Mike Causey radio shows here on federalnewsradio.com . He gave out a lot of information and answered lots of phone calls. If you missed the show, or would like to hear either (or both) of them again they are archived... Click here to go to the archives.

Nearly Useless Factoid

From How to Open a Difficult Jar on wikiHow comes this sage advice: "Keep a firm grip on the jar."

To reach me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com