Your health plan and the Nixon curse

Friday - 12/7/2012, 2:00am EST

After losing his 1962 bid to become governor of California, Richard M. Nixon, held a "final" press conference. Seething because of what he felt was 16 years of unfair press coverage, he told the assembled reporters that after he left the room: "You don't have Nixon to kick around anymore!"

(Of course his take-that-you-rats curse was a little premature. After a successful law career in New York, he was elected, then reelected president. He again locked horns with much of the media, particularly The Washington Post, before resigning because of the Watergate affair.) Some called it the Nixon curse. So what's that got to do with your family's health? Call it the Nixon option.

After Monday, you won't have the FEHBP Open Season to kick around anymore!

Since mid-November, we and others have been helping/nagging feds and retirees to shop around for the best insurance deal. There have been health fairs, radio and TV shows, endless media coverage and lots of free help from the government. If you still haven't picked your 2013 federal health plan, be advised, after Monday you won't have the FEHBP hunting season to kick around anymore. If you don't choose a new plan or option, you will stay in your current plan even if premiums are going up, benefits have changed and your favorite doctor may have left its network.

Doing nothing — which most people do — is an option. So is dangling a fish in front of a 9-foot-long "sleeping" Florida gator. Neither is particularly smart.

The government spent a lot of money on this Open Season. OPM's website is excellent. And many departments and agencies have also subscribed to the online version of CHECKBOOK's Guide to Federal Health plans. It ranks plans by coverage and cost, which includes both premiums and likely out-of-pocket costs. We've had a series of Your Turn radio shows featuring CHECKBOOK author Walton Francis, and David Snell, director of retirement benefits for the National Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE) Association. All of those shows are archived on our home page so you can listen to their expert advice, and answers to the many questions people called in or emailed us.

We also did a number of Open Season columns listing the "best buys" for singles, couples, families, postal workers and retirees with and without Medicare Part B.

The information is a click away. Here's a list of most of the columns by subject. Take time to read them, because they also cover and answer other health-plan related questions. Take a couple of hours to do your homework and save as much as $2,000 next year in premiums and out of pocket costs. Here's the lineup:


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

By Jack Moore

The top words of 2012, according to Merriam-Webster, are "socialism" and "capitalism," so chosen for their prominence in discussions about the presidential election. "Meme" and "touche," also made the list.


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