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Closing Out the Old and Bringing in the New

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It has been a busy year; from changing FEHB providers [2] to new business ventures, an operation, travels, and more.  One of the most significant for me and my wife was switching from Blue Cross Blue Shield Basic (BCBS) to the Government Employees Health Association (GEHA) Standard option during the FEHB open season. When I retired in 2005 we enrolled in the BCBS fee-for-service plan because our HMO wouldn’t cover us during our travels. Unfortunately, there was a rift between providers in the Pittsburgh area that may exclude many of our doctors from the BCBS plan so we had to make the switch. The plans are always difficult to evaluate; so many variables and possibilities that I spent many hours reading their literature and talking with both BCBS and GEHA customer support.

The long and short of it was that the GEHA standard plan, unlike the BCBS Cross basic plan, offers non-PPO coverage so no matter where in the country you end you have treatment options.  Another factor was that the GEHA plan, that includes expanded non-PPO coverage, cost only $210.86 monthly for Standard Option Self and Family compared to $285.42 for Blue Cross Basic self and family coverage, a $74.56 monthly savings or $895.72 per year! The apparent savings are elusive since there are no calendar year deductibles with BCBS basic and the GEHA standard plan has a $350 a year per person deductible.

One of the reasons that I didn’t switch to either the BCBS standard or the GEHA plans previously was the fact that I didn’t understand the co pay / coinsurance structure. After much reading and discussions with others in similar plans I decided that they were not a problem since all of the plans have similar catastrophic limits, even the BCBS basic plan.  I had surgery last year and ran the numbers to compare my costs under the new plan and with the lower monthly costs for the GEHA plan there was little difference.

The new OPM FEHB site at https://retireefehb.opm.gov [3] made the change a snap. I registered on the new site, had brochures sent out, made the switch and received immediate verification unlike in the past when you had to send everything in by mail and wait for weeks to receive your confirmation.  I’m on the site now and can see that my new plan is identified and I was able to download a confirmation sheet to show to providers since my cards haven’t arrived yet.

We continue to grow and expand our retirement planning site and now have 6 forums that cover the following areas:

Our new financial planning forum and host is introduced in the following section.  We grow our site based on visitor input.  Your questions and comments have been very helpful and we found hosts that can address the major concerns and issues encountered by federal employees and retirees. Keep the input coming and let us know what we are doing right and when we need to go further to address all of our visitor’s needs.

Welcome Aboard  – Bringing in the NEW

I would like to introduce everyone to our new Financial Planning Forum [6] hosted by Paul Risser. Paul’s first article titled Why Financial Planning [10] is posted on line and his next article titled “What Beneficiaries Need to Know” is a must read for all retirees and federal employees planning their retirement. It discusses the many issues including legally, who is a beneficiary and the many variations thereof. You can add Paul’s column to your email newsletter list by clicking here [11] and type in your email address.  Instructions on how to update your newsletter profile will be emailed to you.

Paul owns Risser Financial Services and he is a Chartered Federal Employee Benefit Consultant (ChFEBC). His years of experience helped him design an hour presentation, Federal Employee Benefit Basics, which explains annuity computations, FEGLI life insurance, and the TSP. He has presented this program for numerous federal agencies and also offers this program as a webinar.


Learn more about your benefits [19]employment [20], and financial planning issues [21] on our site and visit our Blog frequently at  https://fedretire.net [22] to read all forum articles.

Request a Retirement Benefits Summary & Analysis [23] from a local adviser. A sample analysis [24] is available for your review. Includes projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections. This service is not affiliated with www.federalretirement.net.

Visit our other informative sites

The information provided may not cover all aspect of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, and financial information is subject to change. To ensure the accuracy of this information, contact your benefits coordinator and ask them to review your official personnel file and circumstances concerning this issue. Retirees can contact the OPM retirement center. Our article is not intended nor should it be considered investment advice. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic economic factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change.

Last 5 posts by Dennis Damp