Author Topic: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?  (Read 6495 times)

bonkers40

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Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« on: October 25, 2016, 10:30:03 AM »
With open season coming up for Federal employees, I've been thinking about switching to a HDHP/HSA. I currently pay $138/month for BCBS Federal Basic plan for me and my wife is a GS employee as well with her own same plan, no kids. We are 30 years old and both healthy. The health care plan we currently have seems to work great but we don't use it often. How can I determine if its worth switching to a HDHP?

kendallf

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2016, 11:40:39 AM »
<raises hand>  Here.

With the employer contribution available on our HDHP plans, and your likely tax bracket as a GS employee, it is likely to be a slam dunk to switch.  I have the MHBP "Consumer" option, which contributes $1650 to my HSA each year.  I max the HSA out with my contributions, which gives me an instant tax benefit of ~33% "free" money.  In my case, with the family premiums, the difference in premiums alone from MHBP to BCBS is enough to nearly make up the deductible each year.  If you are healthy and don't go to the doctor much, even better.

Compare the premium differences, add in the value of the employer contribution ad the tax benefit, then subtract what you think your medical costs might be for the year.  If that's a positive number, switch. 

*This ignores a few other factors like network access; I'm assuming you'll have reasonable in-network options for doctors and care.

simonsez

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2017, 07:47:54 AM »
Wow, this is JUST the thread I was looking for!

I just moved from NoVa to the STL area and am in a somewhat similar boat to the OP (31, married, no kids, healthy, pretty much just use it for annual checkups).  I've had BCBS Basic for years but my eyes are being opened with regard to HDHPs in conjunction with HSAs.  I'm strongly considering changing.

Possible Idiotic Question:  Do HDHPs ever fail to qualify as a HDHP in a given year (and I guess just become "health plans"), thus making them an ineligible health plan to contribute toward a HSA?

That's awesome about the matched money for the plan, kendallf!  I'll have to research the HDHP plans available to me here and see if any others do.  It looks like in my area I have access to Aetna HealthFund HDHP, GEHA High Deductible Health Plan, and MHBP Consumer Option.  This is based on https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/healthcare/health-savings-accounts/hdhp_benefits-hsanetamounts.pdf

zephyr911

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2017, 08:04:10 AM »
Wow, this is JUST the thread I was looking for!

I just moved from NoVa to the STL area and am in a somewhat similar boat to the OP (31, married, no kids, healthy, pretty much just use it for annual checkups).  I've had BCBS Basic for years but my eyes are being opened with regard to HDHPs in conjunction with HSAs.  I'm strongly considering changing.

Possible Idiotic Question:  Do HDHPs ever fail to qualify as a HDHP in a given year (and I guess just become "health plans"), thus making them an ineligible health plan to contribute toward a HSA?

That's awesome about the matched money for the plan, kendallf!  I'll have to research the HDHP plans available to me here and see if any others do.  It looks like in my area I have access to Aetna HealthFund HDHP, GEHA High Deductible Health Plan, and MHBP Consumer Option.  This is based on https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/healthcare/health-savings-accounts/hdhp_benefits-hsanetamounts.pdf
*waves* terminal nonsupervisory Army GS-12 here, LOVE LOVE LOVE my HDHP+HSA. Have never heard of one being disqualified and am not sure how that would happen.

We switched during the last open enrollment and it's been a godsend for unexpected costs right on the home stretch toward FIRE. Orthodontic care alone is costing $6200 and no coverage due to her age... so I cranked up HSA contributions to ensure it's mostly funded before I quit, saving us almost $2K in fed/state taxes.

mrigney

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2017, 08:06:36 AM »
@kendallf - Who do you work for (if you don't mind me asking) that is giving a $1650 to your HSA? Wish I could get that.

To the OP...I've run the numbers on the HDHP plans for my family and I can never make the numbers work. If I was single maybe they would. As it stands, the MHBP Value (for example...I don't see the "consumer" option) is only $29/pay period cheaper than BCBS Basic for me. And the deductible is $1,200. I'm just not sure I can justify saving $750 in premiums a year plus access to an HSA for the added risk of a $1,200 (vs $0) deductible + paying 40% coinsurance. With such minimal savings, it just doesn't seem worth the risk to me (and trust me...I've wanted to switch to a HDHP for YEARS, so if I thought the numbers were even marginally in favor of an HDHP I'd be all over it). Somebody show me how I'm wrong (again, for a family...haven't run the numbers for a single person).

simonsez

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2017, 08:22:55 AM »
@kendallf - Who do you work for (if you don't mind me asking) that is giving a $1650 to your HSA? Wish I could get that.

Not kendallf but I think the HDHPs themselves are contributing to the HSA.  Here are 2 examples:

Looking at the MHBP option, it seems they contribute $900 for Self or $1800 for Family per year. 
http://www.mhbp.com/health-plans/consumer-option/index.htm

For the Aetna HealthFund HDHP, they contribute $62.50 per month ($750/yr) for Self or $125 per month for family ($1500/yr).
See page 35: https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/healthcare/plan-information/plan-codes/2015/brochures/73-828.pdf

sol

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2017, 08:27:17 AM »
@kendallf - Who do you work for (if you don't mind me asking) that is giving a $1650 to your HSA? Wish I could get that.

It's not the employer, it's the insurance plan.  I'm a fed and have the same deal with Aetna. I pay them premiums, they put approximately half of my premiums directly into my HSA as "pass through" contributions.

I've done the math ten different ways, and the HDHP makes way more sense for my family in an average year, because we don't normally use that much healthcare.  I think the deductible is like $3000, so we basically pay out of pocket for all of our normal costs, and it's still cheaper than paying the BCBS basic family plan, because of the pass through contributions and the tax savings on maxing out the rest of the HSA up to the limit.

In a bad year, like when one of my kids breaks a bone or something, we'll pay up to $3000 out of pocket for the deductible and in that case it's not quite as good as BCBS.  But in the good years we save thousands of dollars, and in the bad years we'll end up paying a few hundred extra dollars, and so far there have been only good years so we've banked thousands and thousands of dollars of tax free money in our HSA that can cover a future broken bone or surgery or whatever.
...
I went and looked up exact numbers.
From my 2016 HSA notes:
Quote
this year we spent $1870 toward our deductible, more than last year because of [redacted]

We paid 132.43 biweekly totaling 3443 in premiums, plus that 1870 OOP is 5313 in total healthcare costs, minus 1500 in pass through contributions to our HSA and then 1162 in tax savings (at 25% marginal rate) on the remaining 5150 of HSA, for a net cost of 5313-1500-1162 = 2651.  plus the 150 for health assessments, so $2501.

for 2017, premiums are rising 6.62% to 141.21 biweekly, for a total of 3671.  But the BCBS premium for basic self and family is 173.59, for an annual total of 4513.34, plus copays of $325.  Total cost if we had kept bcbs would have been 4838.  So we saved 2337 by having Aetna instead of bcbs.

Our current Aetna plan has a $3k deductible and a $6850 OOP max.  So the way this plays out is that in an average year we save about $2400 over BCBS (2473 in 2015, 2337 in 2016) and in a bad year it will be about the same as BCBS, and in a really terrible year it would be up to $7631 per year in total costs (2016 total costs were 2501) if everyone got cancer at once or something.  That 7601 is 6850 max OOP + 3443 premiums -1500 pass through -1162 tax savings -150 health assessments.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2017, 09:56:24 AM by sol »

mrigney

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2017, 09:44:03 AM »
How the hell have I missed that Aetna, MhBP, etc pay out to the HSA??? I feel like an idiot now.

Sol and Kendallf. Where do you keep your HSA? What are the options for Aetna and MHBP? Or do you keep it somewhere else. Man...open season can't get here soon enough now. I feel like my world has been changed. Haha.

sol

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2017, 10:21:17 AM »
How the hell have I missed that Aetna, MhBP, etc pay out to the HSA??? I feel like an idiot now.

Don't.  It's not like these things are well advertised.  For such a major purchase that every household makes every year, it's kind of baffling that we don't see the kind of advertising dollars that we see for breakfast cereal or sedans.

Quote
Sol and Kendallf. Where do you keep your HSA? What are the options for Aetna and MHBP?

The investment options weren't fantastic when we started, lots of American funds.  They've since added VSCGX and VSMGX.

mrigney

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2017, 11:00:03 AM »
This is the best news of the day for me. Haha. My wife and I just paid for an out of hospital birth (which as of right now BCBS is not covering since we have Basic and it was an out of network midwife). We're probably done w/kids, but take away the cost of the birth, and our average for the last 18 months has been about $60/month. Can't remember the last time we spent more than $1k out of pocket for the year except for birth expenses. So...obviously our run of good health could change, but I am pumped....

@Sol - have you been happy w/the the Aetna HDHP in general?

sol

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2017, 11:48:44 AM »
This is the best news of the day for me.

Most of the time, when the forum helps to save someone a significant amount of money, it goes quietly unnoticed.  So it's good to hear stories from people who are enthusiastically grateful about making positive life changes in response to what they read here.

Quote
@Sol - have you been happy w/the the Aetna HDHP in general?

Yes I'm happy, but we basically haven't used it and we are well paid enough to cover our actual medical costs out of pocket, which is not true for everyone.  The coverage network is good where I live (though we did have to change pediatric dentists), but we're basically only using our plan for catastrophic coverage and we haven't had any catastrophes, so we continue to pay out of pocket for normal little expenses.

I like that preventative care is 100% covered, including dental.  We don't have copays anymore for routine visits, like we did with BCBS.  And the $75 per person per year cash bonus is good incentive to get our annual bloodwork done, which we otherwise would probably skip.

On the other hand, paying out of pocket means we sometimes delay getting nagging problems checked out.  If something is bugging you and you want a doc to look at it, you're going to pay a few hundred dollars for the visit, while under BCBS you went for just the price of the copay because you had already paid the extra hundreds as premiums.  It's easier to emotionally justify getting care when it's already sunk costs, and harder when you actually pay for every visit.

I would switch back to BCBS if I thought we had major upcoming medical expenses, like surgeries or perpetual expensive meds.  But for ordinary stuff for my family of five, the HDHP has worked out to be cheaper for us.  We pay a net total of about $2500 per year to insure and treat the whole family, while maintaining protection against catastrophic events for the equivalent of only a few hundred dollars per year beyond our actual costs.

Whatever sort of health reform gets passed, whether it is repeal or repair, seems likely to include raising the HSA limits.  This is one of those cases where conservatives are going to make me even more rich (with a bigger tax break) because I am already rich enough to cover my medical expenses out of pocket.  If they double the HSA limit, as both the House and Senate plans have proposed, I will save another $1,890/year on my taxes (28% of another $6,750 in HSA contributions).  Thank you, Mitch McConnell.

FindingFI

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2017, 12:23:36 PM »
How the hell have I missed that Aetna, MhBP, etc pay out to the HSA??? I feel like an idiot now.

I missed it too and will definitely be running the numbers to see what makes for next year.  It seemed odd that HDHP premiums weren't much less than those for the BCBS plans, and now I know why.  Having had a HDHP and HSA with a previous employer I have been looking to start contributing and building that account again!

kendallf

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2017, 12:27:54 PM »
How the hell have I missed that Aetna, MhBP, etc pay out to the HSA??? I feel like an idiot now.

Sol and Kendallf. Where do you keep your HSA? What are the options for Aetna and MHBP? Or do you keep it somewhere else. Man...open season can't get here soon enough now. I feel like my world has been changed. Haha.

MHBP uses Heath Equity, which offers some Vanguard low cost funds, so that's where I have that HSA invested.  I also have an account at HSABank from a previous plan (Aetna?  I can't remember) that I have left at HSA Bank so far.  They use TD Ameritrade for investments and so I have an account there. 

Most of the HSA administrators require a certain amount in cash (i.e. uninvested).  For Health Equity it's $2k, for HSA Bank I believe it's lower but they charge you fees if you don't keep $5k in cash.

In our case I have made large amounts of money choosing an HDHP.  I have a daughter who's a gymnast and her school has paid out of pocket costs for her health care for the past four years, often reaching our family deductible.  So over the past few years I've managed to accumulate over $20k in HSA accounts while paying very little out of pocket for care, as well as lower premiums, a tax break on HSA contributions, etc.

There's a reason the Mad Fientist calls the HSA the "ultimate retirement account"!
http://www.madfientist.com/ultimate-retirement-account/

Fomerly known as something

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2017, 11:21:34 AM »
I have Aetna and have been happy with them.  My out of pocket over the last 4 years were about $600 total with stitches and some tests done after a case of the gunk following a work business trip to a not so developed part of the world.  I also pay out of pocket for dental as my dentist is out of network but very reasonable so I didn't bother to file stuff. 

I haven't been able to figure out how to get my payroll to set up deductions to the HSA account so I just go ahead and make ACH transfers instead.

kendallf

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2017, 11:36:20 AM »
I have Aetna and have been happy with them.  My out of pocket over the last 4 years were about $600 total with stitches and some tests done after a case of the gunk following a work business trip to a not so developed part of the world.  I also pay out of pocket for dental as my dentist is out of network but very reasonable so I didn't bother to file stuff. 

I haven't been able to figure out how to get my payroll to set up deductions to the HSA account so I just go ahead and make ACH transfers instead.

You can set up the HSA deduction on Mypay.  Go to the main menu, there's a link for Health Savings Account.  You want to set this up as it's the only way you can get the break on social security/medicare taxes on your contributions (you can get the federal tax break at the end of the year on your tax return, but once the SS/Medicare taxes are withheld, they're gone).

Fomerly known as something

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2017, 05:05:43 PM »
I have Aetna and have been happy with them.  My out of pocket over the last 4 years were about $600 total with stitches and some tests done after a case of the gunk following a work business trip to a not so developed part of the world.  I also pay out of pocket for dental as my dentist is out of network but very reasonable so I didn't bother to file stuff. 

I haven't been able to figure out how to get my payroll to set up deductions to the HSA account so I just go ahead and make ACH transfers instead.


You can set up the HSA deduction on Mypay.  Go to the main menu, there's a link for Health Savings Account.  You want to set this up as it's the only way you can get the break on social security/medicare taxes on your contributions (you can get the federal tax break at the end of the year on your tax return, but once the SS/Medicare taxes are withheld, they're gone).

My agency doesn't use mypay.  I've tried to do so with NFC but it doesn't recognize that I have a HDHP.  With O/T I max out SS anyway so the only thing I'm missing out on is Medicare, so I'm out $50 or so which in the grand scheme of things isn't wroth figuring out what is wrong.

simonsez

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #16 on: April 03, 2018, 02:30:06 PM »
Happy to say MHBP Consumer Option is working thus far.  I made the switch last open season.    $75 (self option) is being deposited there by the insurance plan on pretty much the first business day of each month. 

I finally figured out how to do the payroll deductions via MyEPP (NFC) - which I had been nervous about and didn't really understand at first.  In fact, I was a moron and put my own bank's routing and account number on there initially and after I saw it deposit in my checking account, it dawned on me how it all works.  Now with the proper routing and account number (PayFlex staff on the phone were very helpful and patient), I have confirmed with my Earnings and Leave statement that the federal withholding & FICA amounts have gone down by the appropriate 2018 percentages (22%, 6.2%, 1.45%) on the amount of the payroll deduction (compared to prior E&L statements that had no HSA payroll deduction).

Now that the initial rough patch is over, I'm on my way to the $3450 combined amount for the year.  Looking forward to getting to the investment threshold later this year and branching out to the index funds in there.

Thanks to those in this thread and on pretty much every other HSA thread for the info that pushed me over the edge to spring for the HDHP+HSA.  Not for everyone, but it feels good to check off another box on the investment order.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2018, 02:52:26 PM by simonsez »

Kierun

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #17 on: April 03, 2018, 04:02:58 PM »
Awesome to read Simonsez, I'm looking at also switching after a qualifying event.  I've been trying to figure out if my current doctor will accept the MHBP Consumer Option.  Using the docfind search engine the doctor comes up but I have to select the Aetna Choice POS II plan.  Does that mean I need to choose that particular plan or that the doctor is in the network and I'll be good to go on switching to MHBP Consumer Option?  Thanks!

JJsfr

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #18 on: April 03, 2018, 10:19:29 PM »
Awesome to read Simonsez, I'm looking at also switching after a qualifying event.  I've been trying to figure out if my current doctor will accept the MHBP Consumer Option.  Using the docfind search engine the doctor comes up but I have to select the Aetna Choice POS II plan.  Does that mean I need to choose that particular plan or that the doctor is in the network and I'll be good to go on switching to MHBP Consumer Option?  Thanks!

Careful on qualifying event... I don't think you can have an HSA in a year you were covered by FSA, or normal plan, or something

terran

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #19 on: April 04, 2018, 07:59:36 AM »
Remember that you don't have to (exclusively) use the HSA provided by your employer/insurer. You'll certainly want to take the employer/insurer contribution in the HSA they provide, and if direct contributions from your paycheck avoid FICA tax (they often do) you'll want to contribute yourself to the HSA through payroll deduction, but after that you can transfer to another HSA of your choice. Many HSA's charge transfer fees, so it's best to withdraw and do a rollover yourself (which you can only do once per year). See https://thefinancebuff.com/how-to-rollover-an-hsa-on-your-own-and-avoid-trustee-transfer-fee.html

Kierun

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #20 on: April 04, 2018, 10:40:54 AM »
Awesome to read Simonsez, I'm looking at also switching after a qualifying event.  I've been trying to figure out if my current doctor will accept the MHBP Consumer Option.  Using the docfind search engine the doctor comes up but I have to select the Aetna Choice POS II plan.  Does that mean I need to choose that particular plan or that the doctor is in the network and I'll be good to go on switching to MHBP Consumer Option?  Thanks!

Careful on qualifying event... I don't think you can have an HSA in a year you were covered by FSA, or normal plan, or something

Thanks JJ, been looking into this and I don't have a FSA and haven't read anything yet about not being able to contribute if I had just a normal plan.  I'll keep looking, but from what I could find so far from the IRS and various other sites the main conflict is from a FSA, which I don't have so I might be okay, maybe, I dunno, thanks though!

simonsez

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #21 on: November 13, 2018, 03:02:57 PM »
@kendallf - Who do you work for (if you don't mind me asking) that is giving a $1650 to your HSA? Wish I could get that.

Not kendallf but I think the HDHPs themselves are contributing to the HSA.  Here are 2 examples:

Looking at the MHBP option, it seems they contribute $900 for Self or $1800 for Family per year. 
http://www.mhbp.com/health-plans/consumer-option/index.htm
Update for 2019 - MHBP Consumer Option HSA, the Self Option now receives $1200 per year from the plan and the family receives $2400.  It used to be $75/mo or $150/mo the plan would deposit on 1st of the month but now this is $100/mo or $200/mo.  What a great problem to have to adjust your own contributions down to avoid going over the IRS limit ($3500 for self, $7000 for family in 2019) because the plan contributions increased!

As for @Kierun  I am not sure.  I have the HSA figured out on paper but when it comes to using the healthcare, I've only gone in person to talk to someone and have them look up using my insurance card right there if I'm in the network or not.  I was, so scheduled my annual physical and bloodwork that way.  That's all I have used it for thus far and didn't do any internet or phone research prior to having my new insurance.

kimmarg

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #22 on: November 14, 2018, 06:41:50 PM »
Hmmm this thread is giving me something to think about. Not willing to switch off BCBS this year as we're expecting a baby so likely to hit any possible deductible. Plus BCBS seems to have by far the largest provider network in my area.

I feel like I"m still missing something through. Aetna HDHP is only $10/check less than BCBS which doesn't seem like that amazing a savings. GEHA is significantly less but I switched to them once and they denied every claim I filed and tried to make me drive 2 hours for a procedure so I'm not psyched to try them again.

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #23 on: November 28, 2018, 07:56:28 AM »
Hmmm this thread is giving me something to think about. Not willing to switch off BCBS this year as we're expecting a baby so likely to hit any possible deductible.

Since I'm looking to switch from a HDHP to regular in 2020 for probable kid addition, I just talked to FEDVIPS and found this out.  Yes, you can carry $500 over each year from your Limited Expense FSA (or healthcare FSA), but you cannot roll that $500 from a LEXFSA to a HCFSA (or vice versa).  Just a planning note if you will be jumping between HDHP and regular.

Johnny Aloha

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #24 on: November 28, 2018, 12:44:27 PM »
This post has me considering switching ... I'm currently on the Foreign Service Benefit Plan.  I thought that was untouchable, until I read this thread.  MHBP looks like the best option and I'll have to compare them - thanks all!

sol

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #25 on: November 28, 2018, 01:01:54 PM »
MHBP looks like the best option and I'll have to compare them - thanks all!

The hard part about FEHB is that you have to actually read the materials each year.  Some people like to complain about their premiums going up 15% per year, but that's almost always because they just blindly stay with the same plan forever, instead of reviewing the offerings each year.

For example, last year we were on one of the federal HDHPs and saved several thousand dollars compared to Blue Cross Blue Shield.  This year the premiums for that plan went up, and the BCBS plan's went down.  Down!  Not quite enough to make it worth switching back to BCBS, mind you, but at least closer.  Then I figured out that a different HDHP was offering higher HSA pass through amounts for a lower premium than our old HDHP, with the same deductible.  I checked, and all of our regular providers are still covered, so we're switching this year.

I spent about two hours of time researching our options, and saved thousands of dollars.  It pays to do your homework.

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #26 on: November 28, 2018, 02:16:54 PM »
Just to weigh in: I have GEHA HDHP and pay a premium of $57.84 per biweekly pay period (Self only). With the newly increased $900 in premium paythrough per year for 2019, my real premium cost is only $603.84 for the year. Factor in the tax savings on the remaining $2600 I can contribute to hit the HSA limit (12% federal, 4.5% state, 7.65 % FICA) which is $835.90 in avoided taxes, and my health insurance actually earns me over $200 per year. As long as I don't have to pay for anything outside of preventive or dental care ;)

JJsfr

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #27 on: December 02, 2018, 07:56:14 PM »
MHBP looks like the best option and I'll have to compare them - thanks all!

The hard part about FEHB is that you have to actually read the materials each year.  Some people like to complain about their premiums going up 15% per year, but that's almost always because they just blindly stay with the same plan forever, instead of reviewing the offerings each year.

For example, last year we were on one of the federal HDHPs and saved several thousand dollars compared to Blue Cross Blue Shield.  This year the premiums for that plan went up, and the BCBS plan's went down.  Down!  Not quite enough to make it worth switching back to BCBS, mind you, but at least closer.  Then I figured out that a different HDHP was offering higher HSA pass through amounts for a lower premium than our old HDHP, with the same deductible.  I checked, and all of our regular providers are still covered, so we're switching this year.

I spent about two hours of time researching our options, and saved thousands of dollars.  It pays to do your homework.

Which one did you end up switching to? We have been on GEHA without major issue, and rates went up, though pass through went up. United HDHP has lower rates (~$500/yr for family) and a fixed price for services, but doesn't cover preventative dental and has a lower pass. 

kendallf

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #28 on: December 02, 2018, 09:44:38 PM »
Our numbers for 2019:

MHBP Consumer option family premium, biweekly: $150, $3900 yearly
BCBS Basic family premium, biweekly: $170, $4420 yearly.

Savings of $520, nothing to sneeze at but not compelling when you consider the difference in coverage, especially if you have a history of frequent health care use (we do not).

However, the big savings are in two other areas: first, $2400 premium pass through to our HSA.  Now our savings are$3090 per year.  We're getting there...

Additionally, we max our contributions to the HSA using payroll deduction, another $4600 which in our current tax bracket saves us about 30% in federal and FICA tax.
Now we're at ~$4500 less for our insurance coverage, and after a few years of paying our minimal health care needs with after tax dollars we have something like $30k invested in the HSA, should we need it.   

AK_FED

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Re: Any GS Federal/Goverment Employees with HDHP/HSA?
« Reply #29 on: December 10, 2018, 11:29:11 PM »
Last day of open season!!!  Stumbled on this thread and y'all inspired me to finally get around to switching from BCBS to a HDHP.  Went with GEHA HDHP as it seemed like the best value and all of my my providers are in network.  So stoked to have an HSA now! I'll post in a year or so to update how it's going.