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Federal Retiree Center

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Choosing the right health plan

First and foremost, congratulations on this next chapter in life. You’re on your way to new adventures. We’re glad to help you on your health journey.

We know how challenging it can be to choose the right health plan for yourself and your family. Open enrollment season allows only a brief window to select a plan. But rushing and picking the wrong one can be costly. Here’s a quick guide to help you assess your options and make an informed decision.

Step 1: Know when Federal Benefits Open Season starts and ends

The Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB) Open Season is your chance to review the new rates and benefits. You can use this time to make changes to your health care coverage. And you can even select supplemental dental and vision coverage during this period.

This year FEHB Open Season is November 9 through December 14, 2020. Don’t miss it!

Step 2: Understand your health care needs

Selecting the right plan is a very personal process. It’s not an easy one. You should examine your medical needs. Look at the amount and types of care you had in the past. What type of coverage is most important to you? Would you like to continue seeing your preferred doctor? Of course, it’s impossible to predict every scenario. But knowing your history and identifying your unique needs can help you select the best plan for you and your family’s needs.

Step 3: Compare plans

Study the differences between plans. You can perform side-by-side comparisons of costs and benefits for up to four plans with the Office of Personnel Management FEHB Plan Comparison Tool. Make sure to pay attention to the section “Member Cost with Medicare A & B Primary.” Compare Aetna Direct and Aetna Medicare Advantage here.

Use the provider directory to find doctors and hospitals that are in the plan’s network or with Medicare. Costs are lower when you go to a doctor that’s in the plan.

Step 4: Don’t forget the benefits

Drill down further and understand the plan benefits. Some may have better coverage for things like physical therapy, prescription drugs and behavioral health services. Others might have better emergency coverage. Also consider a plan’s perks. For example, with Aetna’s discount program, you pay nothing extra to start saving money on things like massages, gym memberships, weight loss programs and vision services. You are eligible for all these discounts when you enroll in any Aetna federal plan.

Step 5: Ask an expert

Ok. You’ve outlined your health plan priorities, compared plans, sifted through all the information and you still have questions. Great! We’re here to answer them. Here’s how to reach an Aetna Federal Plans Team member:

Step 6: Enroll in a plan

You’ve picked a plan and are now ready to enroll. Here are your options:

Table of enrollment codes
Aetna Direct Aetna Medicare Advantage
Enrollment code Coverage Enrollment code Coverage
N61 Self only Z24 Self Only
N63 Self + 1 Z26 Self + 1
N62 Self & Family Z25 Self & Family

Enrolling in Aetna Medicare Advantage is a two-step process for retirees with Medicare Parts A and B.

I hope this information helps answer your questions and you’re closer to choosing the best health plan for you and your family. We’re here with you every step of the way.

Till next time,


Article by Rick Tapnio – Rick is a U.S. Air Force veteran with 24 years of service in the Health Services Management field. Read more about Rick and meet the rest of the Federal Team »

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