The end is near, seriously!

Wednesday - 11/28/2012, 2:00am EST



No matter how busy and important you are, you face two very important deadlines. One can cost you, the other can kill you! They are:

1). In less than two weeks, the health-insurance hunting season closes until this time next year. The health plan you pick between now and Dec. 10 will cover you and your family for calendar year 2013. Picking the right plan could save you thousands of dollars. Picking the wrong plan, although they are all good, could cost you thousands of dollars in premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

If you do nothing and stick with your same-old-same-old health plan, you could be hit by higher premiums and reduced benefits. Not the end of the world, but serious. Or...

2). The actual end of the world, which some "experts" say is predicted by the Mayan calendar. Some say the poles will flip, which means those of us in the D.C. area will be living and working (should we survive it) in a climate like Sydney, Australia. To which I say, bring it on! Others say all life will end, which will put a major damper on Christmas but also solve the sequestration problem.

Walton Francis, author of Consumers' Checkbook Guide to Federal Health Plans says the typical working fed or retiree can save up to $1,000 if he or she picked the best plan for themselves. Couples can save even more in premiums.

This year, feds have dozens of very different plans to chose from. Many like the managed-care of health maintenance organizations (HMOs). Francis says picking Kaiser Mid-Atlantic Standard Option, CareFirst BlueChoice High Option or Aetna Open Access Basic Option will save the average family as much as $1,500 next year.

He also recommends you check out the Consumer Driven and High Deductible plans which, he says provide "substantial savings over almost all traditional insurance plans," and they have "loophole-free protections that are better than those in most traditional plans to protect policy holders against high costs."

Francis also recommends people check out plans like the NALC, Blue Cross and SAMBA High Options which get top ratings from customers and having a plan with minimal hassles can be a major benefit.

The HD and CD plans also make it possible for you to build up a bank account — Francis calls it a Roth IRA on steroids — that is yours to keep and which can be worth more than the premiums you pay.

Many federal agencies have subscribed to the online version of Checkbook's guide for their own employees. It is also available to members of the American Federation of Government Employees union and members of the National Treasury Employees Union.

Got questions? Well we (that is he) has the answers, because he literally wrote the book. And Francis will be my guest today on our Your Turn radio show.

Later in the show, Federal Timesman Sean Reilly will talk about postal buyout and early retirement offers, sagging employee morale and plans congressional long-knives have for federal pay and benefit cuts.

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

By Jack Moore

The average age of the four living members of The Rolling Stones is two years older than the nine justices on the U.S. Supreme Court.

(Source: AP)


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