Federal News Network Senior Correspondent Mike Causey discusses everything of interest to federal employees, from pay, benefits and retirement, to buyouts, COLAs and pay freezes.
Looking for a safe 7.1% investment?
So today we’ve got a double-header for you on Your Turn. My lead off guest is financial planner Arthur Stein, who specializes in managing finances of active and retired feds. Today he’s going to talk about the pros and cons of playing it “safe” with your TSP and the definition of just what “safe” is. In the second half of the show, I’ll do a year-in-review interview with colleague Nicole Ogrysko, our pay and benefits experts, with a surprise twist at the end.
Open Season: Shop online and on company time for your health plan
If you work for Uncle Sam there’s a 50/50 chance you do. That is, your agency has pre-paid so you can shop from home, office or home/office using the popular Checkbook’s Guide to Federal Health Plans. Many people use it to find several best-buys for them. Editor Walton Francis says most people can save lots of money — up to $2000 next year — if they pick the best deal from the dizzying array of health plans available to 4-million-plus federal workers, retired civil servants and their survivors. Many of them have been in the same health plan for decades, And over time, as they get older and more dependent on health care, the plan has simply become too expensive (in premiums) based on what they get in benefits and services. Walt Francis will be my guest today on Your Turn.
Hidden gems (and time bombs) in your health plan
Federal workers, retirees and their surviving spouses are fortunate in many ways. They have a large number of health plans to choose from. The government will pay much if not most of the premium. No one can be turned down for any reason. Full coverage continues in retirement, which is not the case in most private plans.
While the choice of 20 to nearly 40 health plans and options is bewildering, it is an effort everybody should make. Many federal agencies have made it easier for people to shop at work, on the clock, by subscribing to Checkbook’s Guide to Health Plans For Federal Employees. The online guide makes it easy for people to check out plans, benefits, networks, catastrophic coverage and, of course, premiums.
The good news, for you and me, is that Walton Francis is my guest today on Your Turn. Remember, the countdown clock is ticking and you’ve got skin — literally and in money — in this open season. Francis is the long time editor of the Checkbook Guide, which, if your agency hasn’t subscribed for you, you can get by clicking here. You can save an additional 20% with the promotion code FEDNEWS.
Want a Roth IRA on steriods? Check your health plan.
Tired of shelling out thousands of dollars each year for your federal health plan? Confused, irritated or both by the multiple-choices available under the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) Program? Why not consider picking a health plan that pays you? Thousands of federal and postal workers have done it. Joined a high deductible health plan that has allowed them to amass accounts — their very own money — worth $10,000 to $50,000.
Welcome to the federal benefits open season, which runs through Dec. 13.
Other things to think about include how to save on taxes when paying your medical bills, and a half dozen items you probably hadn’t thought of but should consider. Which is why today’s Your Turn episode with Walt Francis is a must-listen. It could be the most productive 40 minutes of your year. For you and your family.
Would you buy a Medicare Advantage plan from Joe Namath? Or anybody else?
Before you answer, your first question might be “what’s a Joe Namath?” or “what’s this Medicare Advantage thing?”
If you are of a certain age, and like (or hate) professional football, you will know that Joe was a very famous, successful college and professional quarterback. Now he is best known for TV commercials telling seniors how to get the most out of Medicare. And he is not alone.
The FEHB open season runs through Dec. 13. so there is still plenty of time to compare plans, in addition to your current carrier, and compare their premiums, benefits, drug coverage and physician network. For folks trying to navigate the world of Medicare and FEHB benefits, it is even more complicated. Unless you have an expert at hand which, if you are reading this, you do. Spoiler alert: I am not the expert. Not even close. But I know who is. That would be Walton Francis, long-time editor of Checkbook’s Guide to Federal Health Plans. And he’s going to be my guest today on Your Turn.
Last chance to blow $2,000
Federal workers and retirees have little time to miss another deadline and lose, as in overpay up to $2,000, on next year’s health premiums. All they have to do to ensure loser status for insurance premiums is nothing. Ignore open season (which runs through Dec. 13). Stay in the same health plan you’ve belonged to since the Carter administration. Don’t even consider leaving the high or standard option of your favorite plan since Friends or the Fresh Prince of Belair topped the TV charts.
Most private sector companies offer minimum choices, minimum premium sharing and zero help to workers during their open seasons. Not Uncle Sam. When it comes to a helping health plan hand, the federal government can’t be beat. The Office of Personnel Management offers an excellent website which helps workers navigate the various plans, options and premiums. Most agencies now offer (free to employees) the Consumer Checkbook guide to federal health plans. Its long-time editor Walton Francis sorts out the best deal for workers, retirees or survivor annuitants. You can check to see if your doctor is in network and find out other things that should be a factor in deciding on your 2022 health plan.
To kick off open season, Walt Francis will be my guest today on Your Turn. He’ll answer questions and give you a checklist of what to do during this open season. That will include things like health plans that offer HSAs (health savings accounts) for employees. Some of them who have been in HSA plan for years now have accounts of $50.000.
Great practical podcast but...
I enjoy all of Mike Causey’s podcasts and listen to each one. I’d give it a five (5) star however, there’s really not much mention of the single, no dependents demographic that planning to retire. It would be helpful if Mike and his guests could work touch on it in the podcasts as we need guidance and the practical steps, too.
Episode 10/14/20 displays how “out of touch” host is with current (younger) federal workforce
Mike, you are a generous and dedicated host.... however, your discussion points on FMLA and the new paid parental leave policy were CRINGEWORTHY, and frankly, scary. “Many employees used to think the 12 weeks of unpaid leave was generous”..... what????! Thank you to your guests, who provided educated corrections and pointed remarks. I appreciate the education and relevant discussions, but could use less of the “federal employees have it so great” propaganda Mike tends to lean into HARD. (Also, thanks for laying off on the “I read the obits everyday” stories as well). ;)
Sincerely, federal employee in their 30s
Enjoy the Fruitful Discussions
Enjoy the podcasts. Good conversations on issues impacting federal employees. Keep up the good work.
However, I do agree with “jkoe1”. I’d like to learn about more topics of interest pertaining to the “single, no dependents demographic”.