Author Topic: Fed Government Health Insurance Plans - Anybody have insight  (Read 3506 times)

mrigney

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Fed Government Health Insurance Plans - Anybody have insight
« on: October 01, 2015, 07:36:50 AM »
I'm about to start a job as a civil servant (Monday). Actually my second go around as a civil servant, but was in no way mustachian the first go around. Was wondering if there were any others here who had gone through the process of picking out health insurance from the fed government options. All of my friends who are civil servants do the BCBS standard PPO option. Fine. It's decent enough. But am trying to figure out if going with one of the HDHP options is the better choice. Obviously get the HSA that way. Any insights? Would specifically like to know what options I might have for investing the HSA money if I went with an HDHP plan? Would be a bummer for it to sit in a bank account earning 0.05% interest per year.

MsPeacock

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Re: Fed Government Health Insurance Plans - Anybody have insight
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2015, 10:42:22 AM »
I have been very happy with the FEP BCBS. I personally use enough health care that I don't want a HDHP. It is less expensive for me for the insurance and there is no deductible. Also, due to unexpected health events this year I needed a lot more specialist appointments and appreciated not needing to see a PCM for a referral. If you are able to look over past years health costs and calculate out which plan would be cheaper, that would be one way to consider which plan you are interested in. There are quite a few plans available and you can balance things you want (pay less per month, ease of access to care, etc.) vs. the out of pocket costs.

I have never heard a positive story from a single person (fed employee or otherwise) about having a HDHP. Everyone I know who has one as chosen it because the monthly cost is low - and then they are socked with out of pocket costs for every single thing all year until October or something - all the routine visits, vaccinations, an ER visit, illnesses, etc. before the plan even kicks in. They put off appointments or care that is needed because it is expensive and they can't afford the out of pocket costs. This is not a system that would work for me.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2015, 06:09:11 PM by MsPeacock »

leftcoastenvy

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Re: Fed Government Health Insurance Plans - Anybody have insight
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2015, 11:15:18 AM »
I have BCBS Federal. I have the Basic version vs. Standard because I insure our whole family (me + spouse + 3 kids) and basic's premiums are a good bit lower for the family plan. I love that there is no deductible and all the costs are pretty low. I only had to pay $150 copay for both of my pregnancies/births that occurred while on this insurance. Most of my coworkers also have BCBS. The premiums are low enough that I don't see any reason to go with a HDHP.

mrigney

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Re: Fed Government Health Insurance Plans - Anybody have insight
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2015, 12:54:46 PM »
Yeah...everyone I know (I live in a city w/a ton of DoD civil servants) has BCBS Standard/Basic. Looks like premiums are $213 biweekly ($5500/year). GEHA HDHP premiums are $115 biweekly ($3000/year). GEHA also contributes $1500/year to your HSA each year ($125/month), effectively making the deductible $1500. Which really isn't that bad. After meeting the deductible, you pay 5% of cost (25% for prescriptions). Preventative care is not subject to the deductible, so routine yearly visits and well-child checkups are $0. This seems like a pretty enticing deal to me? We have a healthy family, are done having kids (unless the unexpected happens!)...the numbers honestly seem to favor the HDHP. Are there horror storeis with trying to get access to doctors? I assume the GEHA network is comparable to BCBS, but maybe not? Am I missing something?

In years w/low healthcare costs, you could potentially save a few thousand dollars.

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Fed Government Health Insurance Plans - Anybody have insight
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2015, 01:34:26 PM »
For me and my area the BCBS BASIC is way better than standard even though it is cheaper.  You can only go in-network but everyone around here is in-network.  Basic gives 20 chiro visits (that I use every year) and Standard only had 12. 

I haven't bothered with HDHP because of the 25% on prescriptions.  One of my drugs is $2k/month without insurance.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2015, 01:36:24 PM by Blonde Lawyer »

mrigney

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Re: Fed Government Health Insurance Plans - Anybody have insight
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2015, 01:55:25 PM »
Yeah....if you have expensive drugs, not the way to go obviously. We've probably filled an antibiotic once in the last year? Basically no prescriptions to speak of. And if one did come up, I'd suffer until next open enrollment and switch.

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Fed Government Health Insurance Plans - Anybody have insight
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2015, 05:17:14 PM »
What's the out of pocket max?

Left

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Re: Fed Government Health Insurance Plans - Anybody have insight
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2015, 06:32:35 PM »
i am on the aetna plan, but im single and the premiums and coverage were all about the same. i might look into blue cross when open season ccomes up if you all like it that much, at least a closer look at it.

i like aetna since i got my vision and dental as part of it. not sure if bcbs had that or not.

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Fed Government Health Insurance Plans - Anybody have insight
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2015, 04:33:52 PM »
BCBS covers in network dentist only and doesn't cover vision.  The dental network in my location sucked so I got GEHA dental that also covers vision.

Monkey Uncle

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Re: Fed Government Health Insurance Plans - Anybody have insight
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2015, 04:48:49 AM »
We had a thread about this subject last fall: http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/us-federal-employees-do-you-like-apwu's-consumer-driven-health-plan/msg455372/#msg455372

The upshot is that there is no sure-fire best choice.  I guess if you have a chronic condition and you know you're going to be consuming a lot of health care, it's pretty clear that the BCBS basic or something similar is going to be the best choice.  For basically healthy people, you can gamble on staying healthy and come out way ahead with a HDHP plan.  But if something unexpected happens, you're going to get hit with high out-of-pocket costs.

muckety_muck

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Re: Fed Government Health Insurance Plans - Anybody have insight
« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2015, 05:42:17 AM »
I'm on the fence about this one. We've had BCBS PPO Standard for a long time. Last year, I asked around about the HDHP amongst friends both in gov't and non-gov't. Nobody had a positive experience, and most stated they would be going back to the available PPO option at the next open season. I'm completely bummed we can't have a HSA option along with the PPO instead of using the FSA. Such pressure to spend by Mar 15!!!

Good luck. I'll be following to see others experiences.

kimmarg

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Re: Fed Government Health Insurance Plans - Anybody have insight
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2015, 11:58:14 AM »
I'm with the hoards on BCBS, excellent coverage, excellent customer service. More pricey but you get what you pay for.

I tried GEHA one year because it was cheaper. Got what I paid for after every single claim I made was denied (and I only had a few!) they also tried to send me 3 hours away for an MRI when I live 20 min from the largest hospital in the state.

There's a website called "Plan Smartchoice" that let's you input a bunch of specifics about your situation and then compares all the plans for you. Helpfully I got an email saying my agency wasn't renewing it this year- Grrrr. If you can get on it that's the best option. Also check doctors in your are. Everyone around me takes BCBS and GEHA stunk.

Can't Wait

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Re: Fed Government Health Insurance Plans - Anybody have insight
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2015, 12:59:23 PM »
When I look at the BCBS plan brochure, they indicate that they have $350 deductible. I'm on the Aetna Open access plan for the DC area and I can confirm that there is no deductible at all.

Dulcimina

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Re: Fed Government Health Insurance Plans - Anybody have insight
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2015, 01:51:13 PM »
Yeah...everyone I know (I live in a city w/a ton of DoD civil servants) has BCBS Standard/Basic. Looks like premiums are $213 biweekly ($5500/year). GEHA HDHP premiums are $115 biweekly ($3000/year). GEHA also contributes $1500/year to your HSA each year ($125/month), effectively making the deductible $1500. Which really isn't that bad. After meeting the deductible, you pay 5% of cost (25% for prescriptions). Preventative care is not subject to the deductible, so routine yearly visits and well-child checkups are $0. This seems like a pretty enticing deal to me? We have a healthy family, are done having kids (unless the unexpected happens!)...the numbers honestly seem to favor the HDHP. Are there horror storeis with trying to get access to doctors? I assume the GEHA network is comparable to BCBS, but maybe not? Am I missing something?

In years w/low healthcare costs, you could potentially save a few thousand dollars.
+1 for GEHA HDHP

The GEHA plan is the one I have had since 2011.  For self only, my portion of the premium is $54 biweekly compared to the BCBS premium of $91 biweekly.  The deductible is $1500 but the plan contributes $62.5/month ($750/yr) to my HSA.

The downside as you pointed out is the network.  I've found that a few of specialists that I've gone to don't work with GEHA's United Health Care network.  It hasn't been a big problem yet.  I always check what is covered when I make an appointment with a new physician.