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Walt Francis, Consultant and Health Insurance Expert, advises federal employees on how to choose a healthcare plan for next year

Federal employees have until Dec. 14 to decide whether to keep their current healthcare plan or choose a new one. Walt Francis, consultant and author of “Checkbook’s 2021 Guide to Health Plans,” joined “Government Matters” to discuss what federal employees should know about Open Season.

This year’s Open Season for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program runs from Nov. 9 to Dec. 14. Feds also need to make decisions about the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program and the Federal Flexible Spending Account Program during this window.

Francis said federal employees should try to narrow down their plan options as quickly as possible, and that spending even a half hour looking through plans can pay dividends. Out of the more than 250 plans, he said only about 40 are available in the D.C. area.

“The first thing to do is check the plan you’re in to make sure something bad isn’t happening this year,” Francis said. Premiums and deductibles can change from year to year. He also advised feds to make sure their doctors will remain in-network for the next year.

Francis also suggested federal employees think about whether they have any upcoming health changes they can predict in the next year, and to choose a plan accordingly.

“The other mistake people make is not even looking at the possibility that there may be a better plan out there, and there almost always is,” he said.

Francis said federal employees can evaluate their plan options by looking at ratings on the OPM website or Checkbook.  Government employees can also look at individual plan websites once they’ve narrowed down their options. Francis also recommended federal employees choose a carrier they like and then consider all of the plan options within that carrier.

“People have different search techniques. You can go to your own plan website, but what I really want you to do is go to some other plan website…” he said. “Let something spark an interest in you.”

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