Open season: Determining if you should change health plans

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Walt Francis, consultant and health insurance expert, discusses why some federal workers should change their insurance plans.


Open season in the federal government lasts through December 10. With more than 30 insurance plans on offer, there’s no shortage of options. However,  most federal employees stay in their existing plan from year to year. Walt Francis, consultant and health insurance expert, says that if workers don’t look at the plans, they’re leaving out options that could help them for the coming year.

“The big thing of course is that you’re buying insurance. You want to look at the catastrophic, the out-of-pocket limit… Some of these plans cover hearing aids, some don’t. Some have dental built into the plan, some don’t,” Francis said. “A lot depends on what your family’s health needs are. For example, maybe next year your expecting some pretty high cost prescription drugs, you might choose a plan that otherwise seems a bit costly just to get that better drug coverage.”

Francis told Government Matters that after 40 years of covering federal insurance, the market in the D.C. area has stabilized. However, he says that employees need to take a more active role in choosing their insurance.

“The big problem is what hasn’t changed. People haven’t been willing to take the time to do a little bit of research on ‘what options are there other than this plan I’ve been in for 10 or 20 years…’” Francis said. “The premium may be so out of whack with what other plans are charging, that it’s in your interest to get out of that plan and award yourself a pay raise for next year.”