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Strong feelings about health plans

Nov. 18, 2013 - 03:04PM   |  
By AL KARR   |   Comments

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Federal Times interviewed several federal employees and retirees about their health plan concerns and plans. Here is some of what they said:

Warren Searls, retiree

Searls, 78, of Hot Springs, Ark., retired as a program analyst at the Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

“Years ago,” he said, “my wife and I decided that health insurance is more important that life insurance. For some time, you’re more likely to become ill than die.” So they decided to carefully consider what health plans to sign up for, “and I’m glad we did,” Searls said. “I would tell people not to make a decision blindly.”

They now rely on GEHA as their secondary insurer to Medicare and are once again looking at alternatives. Among their considerations: What they might need if a serious illness or injury occurs, what plan level they need to get and what it might cost if they have to go out of GEHA’s preferred provider, or PPO, network. But they have been with GEHA for over 50 years, “and we’ve never had any reason to change,” Searls said.

Darren Collins, Postal Service

Collins, 46, is a letter carrier in Houston. He switched from Blue Cross and Blue Shield to the National Association of Letter Carriers seven years ago because Blue Cross premiums were climbing. “Cost was a driving factor — a no-brainer,” he said.

“I’m definitely sticking with NALC. Every year, they find a way to make sure we are getting service at least as good as what their competitors provide,” he said. Collins was especially pleased with how NALC handled a claim when his daughter developed scoliosis a few years ago.

Linda Lentini, TSA

Lentini, of Alexandria, Va., is a Tansportation Security Administration communications manager. She wants to continue to be able to see a specialist without referrals and can do so under her Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan, which covers her, her four boys and her self-employed husband. When she had a car accident and saw a specialist several times, “we were free to go where we wanted.”

Lentini has had the plan since 2009, when she returned to government work from the private sector. She said she has been “extremely happy” with the plan.

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