• filter:

Best Insurance for Federal Employee?

  • Page :
  • 1
  • Text Only
  • Search this Topic »
Voting History
rated:
I have been a federal employee for two years now. I have had health insurance through the state and would finally like to purchase health insurance through my job. I need health insurance for myself and my 9 year old son. I live in MD (DC area). I am a single mom so I would like to keep the cost down but find an insurance plan that will give me good coverage. I have dental and vision through my job but I am very overwhelmed with choosing a health plan. I am not familiar with HRA etc. I am 33 years old and very healthy. I don't smoke. Any advice? I think open season starts in November.

Member Summary
Staff Summary
Thanks for visiting FatWallet.com. Join for free to remove this ad.

rated:
Call the insurance broker that runs your local plan. No one here can give you the info you need unless they work next to you.

rated:
Look through the paperwork you get before open enrollment, compare the premiums you get with the benefits provided, and pick the plan that makes the most sense to you.

Personally, I am partial to high deductible plans with HSAs. The premiums are cheap but the benefits don't kick in until you've met the deductible. You contribute to the HSA in your paycheck so that you have money saved up to pay for medical expenses. These plans don't work well for people who know they're going to have certain types of large expenses, particularly prescriptions, but they work great for relatively healthy people. Even if you get sick or injured and it costs you a lot of money, you end up coming out ahead overall due to the low premiums.

rated:
As a Federal employee, I'm pretty sure that coverage and the premium you pay for it would be much better than anywhere else. Just wait for the information your HR provides sometime next month and compare it to your current plan.

rated:
Your agency personnel office should have a website discussing Open Season which begins in Mid-November to early December. The OPM.GOV website carries all health plan brochures for all US states. OPM also puts up a list of all insurance plans broken down by states that show premium costs. If you have dental and vision benefits, you might have enrolled in the FEDVIP program. The FEHB program has the health insurance plans. There is also the FSA program which allows you to contribute to medical and child care costs through payroll deductions. HRA (health reimbursement arrangements) are not that common and are provided for health insurance customers who do no qualify for the HSA (health savings accounts) due to participating in the FSA program. There are different types of plans. Fee for service plans (like Blue Cross), HMO (health maintenance organization) plans, PPO (paid provider option) plans, HDHP with HSA/HRA (high deductible health plans with health savings accounts/health reimbursement accounts) and consumer driven plans (plans with a specific credited amount customer account that is funded by the insurance plan to use). The HDHP with HSA/HRA plans usually have the lowest premium costs, but if you need to use the hospital or get sick a lot, the deductible payouts will be large (in the thousands of dollars every year). People who have chronic illnesses or need to see a doctor many times a year are better suited to plans where they have to make low copayments with low or no deductibles. Your agency and agency union might have Consumer Checkbook website access that allows you to compare the benefits and costs of the insurance plans. Look through your Employee benefits website for your agency.

N.B.  When I first started working of the Government, my health insurance cost was $2.50 per pay period.  How times have changed.

rated:
There's a service called Consumer's checkbook that some Federal agencies provide access to, and it provides you comparison choices for FEHB plans. Not sure if your agency provides it, but here's a list of the participating agencies:

https://www.checkbook.org/newhig2/more.cfm

Otherwise, best of luck to you.  I would say to check the OPM site and read through the plan brochures.

rated:
Thank you! My agency wasn't listed. 

rated:
Thank you! I looked and compared the list I was just a little overwhelmed. Wasn't sure which one I should go with. I do have Fedvip and FSA. 

rated:
If you want meaningful advice from this group, you need to provide a lot of the details for the different plan options you have.

A LOT of details. If you can scan all the plan documents (assuming that's allowed), someone might read it all and offer advice (not it!)

rated:
We're feds living in VA and have been very happy with BCBS basic.

rated:
Plans: https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/healthcare/plan-information/plans/2017/state/md 

Premiums: https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/healthcare/plan-information/plans/2017/state/md/rates 

There are 25 plans in MD, through OP is probably not eligible to join all of them since some require you to have specific employers or occupations (i.e. Foreign Service Benefit Plan only opened to foreign service occupations, Compass Rose Health Plan only open to people who work in the intelligence community, have diplomatic jobs or work in the Department of Defense).

I did an analysis for a possible job earlier this year, and I selected these plans as the best balance between coverage and rates:

  1. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Mid-Atlantic States - Standard
  2. Aetna HealthFund HDHP - HDHP
  3. Aetna Direct - CDHP
  4. CareFirst BlueChoice - HDHP
  5. NALC - CDHP


If you're comfortable with a closed-network HMO, the "Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Mid-Atlantic States - Standard" plan seemed like the best balance between premiums and coverage.

A word of caution, some plans use third-party networks (Cigna for NALC, APWU and SAMBA plans; Aetna for MHBP plans; United Health Care for GEHA plans), only reimburse UCR (usual and customary) rates, have complicated HRA-like components (all the CDHP plans), or required you to join a union or other group (at a cost of $35-$42/year).

All of the CDHPs had an HRA-like account that reduces out-of-pocket costs. All of the HDHPs give you some level of HSA contribution. Many of the plans have cash or FSA-like incentives for doing things like completing surveys, getting an annual physical or entering a wellness program. Many of the plans also had what could be best described as a dental discount program (reduced cost dental care using a very narrow network). The NALC plans only offer preventative coverage until the deductible has been met.

I realize in OP's case that she's buying a "Self Plus One" plan, but I offer the following about "Self Plus Family" plan stats for comparison purposes. The out-of-pocket max for family plans ranges from $4,500 to $13,200. And, for those same family plans, the most you can pay (premiums + out-of-pocket max) range from $7,760 to $16,910).

rated:
Euroxgirl10 said:   Thank you! My agency wasn't listed. 
  You can buy access to the website for $9.95, but I'd wait until they publish 2018 numbers:

https://www.checkbook.org/newhig2/year17/onlineorder.cfm

rated:
sharky1985 said:   We're feds living in VA and have been very happy with BCBS basic.
  I can't figure out a situation where the BCBS plans make more sense than the Kaiser Standard plan, unless you really hate HMOs. How did you pick the BCBS basic plan?

rated:
stanolshefski said:   A word of caution, some plans use third-party networks (Cigna for NALC, APWU and SAMBA plans; Aetna for MHBP plans; United Health Care for GEHA plans), only reimburse UCR (usual and customary) rates, have complicated HRA-like components (all the CDHP plans), or required you to join a union or other group (at a cost of $35-$42/year).

APWU uses United Healthcare, at least in CA. HRA isn't complicated. For Self+1, it's $2400 that you can use on medical, dental, and vision expenses every year. Any unused amount is rolled over to next year up to a maximum of $10K. The postal workers always seem to have the best healthcare plans, probably because of their unions. Most people don't know that you don't have to be a postal worker to choose these plans. Typically, they have a lower premium, lower deductible, lower out-of-pocket maximums, and you can see any doctor you want. So I don't recommend letting a $35 annual fee be a deciding factor.  OP, there is no "one plan" to rule them all.  You have to decide what's important to you. 

rated:
Also because for quite some time, the post office was the largest civilian operation of the Federal Government.
Kaiser Mid-Atlantic is different from the west coast Kaisers in that they don't operate their own hospital system. There are positives and negatives to this approach. 

rated:
calwatch said:   Also because for quite some time, the post office was the largest civilian operation of the Federal Government.
Kaiser Mid-Atlantic is different from the west coast Kaisers in that they don't operate their own hospital system. There are positives and negatives to this approach. 

  If you are from the east coast and have to go to a Kaiser in the west, then you will not be recognized in their system.  You will be bamboozled.

rated:
qcumber98 said:   
stanolshefski said:   A word of caution, some plans use third-party networks (Cigna for NALC, APWU and SAMBA plans; Aetna for MHBP plans; United Health Care for GEHA plans), only reimburse UCR (usual and customary) rates, have complicated HRA-like components (all the CDHP plans), or required you to join a union or other group (at a cost of $35-$42/year).

APWU uses United Healthcare, at least in CA. HRA isn't complicated. For Self+1, it's $2400 that you can use on medical, dental, and vision expenses every year. Any unused amount is rolled over to next year up to a maximum of $10K. The postal workers always seem to have the best healthcare plans, probably because of their unions. Most people don't know that you don't have to be a postal worker to choose these plans. Typically, they have a lower premium, lower deductible, lower out-of-pocket maximums, and you can see any doctor you want. So I don't recommend letting a $35 annual fee be a deciding factor.  OP, there is no "one plan" to rule them all.  You have to decide what's important to you. 

  Some of those HRA's are complicated because some carry over to the next year (if you stick with the carrier), and some don't. In some plans you must exhaust your HRA before the plan covers ANYTHING, and some don't.

Seeing any doctor you want sounds great, but I believe some of those plans only reimburse you at UCR (usual and customary rates) -- which may not correspond to your actual medical costs.

rated:
qcumber98 said:   
calwatch said:   Also because for quite some time, the post office was the largest civilian operation of the Federal Government.
Kaiser Mid-Atlantic is different from the west coast Kaisers in that they don't operate their own hospital system. There are positives and negatives to this approach. 

  If you are from the east coast and have to go to a Kaiser in the west, then you will not be recognized in their system.  You will be bamboozled.

  Kaiser is quite clear that only emergent care (urgent and emergency) should happen out of network and out of region.

  • Quick Reply:  Have something quick to contribute? Just reply below and you're done! hide Quick Reply
     
    Click here for full-featured reply.


Disclaimer: By providing links to other sites, FatWallet.com does not guarantee, approve or endorse the information or products available at these sites, nor does a link indicate any association with or endorsement by the linked site to FatWallet.com.

Thanks for visiting FatWallet.com. Join for free to remove this ad.

While FatWallet makes every effort to post correct information, offers are subject to change without notice.
Some exclusions may apply based upon merchant policies.
© 1999-2017