Self versus family health insurance


Q. I have a couple of questions about insurance plan comparisons for single and family options in retirement.

For health insurance in retirement, when or should we change to two self-only plans or stay with the self and family plan in retirement? Are there any major considerations in selecting two single plans or the family plan? My wife and I, no other dependents, are CSRS retirees. We are covered by my self and family BCBS Standard 105 plan.

I have been reading the plan brochure but cannot create a logical comparison of when, or if, to go with two single plans versus the family plan option.

I know each single plan would have its own deductible per year for that persons plan.

Do you know of any way to compare and determine if the choice of two single plans would be better than staying with the family option? The annual difference in premiums is $710.40 for two singles versus the family plan under the BCBS Standard 105 Plan.

For several years after retirement, I worked at a company that offered three BCBS plan options: “Single” “1 Plus” and “Family” plans. The “1 Plus” premium fell between the “Single” and the “Family” premiums, but the government has not negotiated that option yet for retirees benefit.

A. Your question has no single answer. As the saying goes, “It all depends.” You’ve done a good job of identifying the differences between self and family coverage and two single enrollments.

Now you and your spouse have to make the decision.

As for OPM not having negotiated an option for retiree benefits, it can’t. Only a change in the law would allow it to do that, and no one on the Hill or in any administration has shown an interest in doing that.

Whether making such a change would reduce or increase the cost of retiree coverage is unclear. What is clear is that fragmenting the risk pool is rarely a good idea.


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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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