The vast majority of federal retirees stick with fee-for-service health plans even though most health maintenance organizations have lower premiums.

There are several reasons retirees are clustered in the national plans, with most in Blue Cross-Blue Shield:

* Retirees don't like to change plans. Federal workers and retirees can switch plans each year, regardless of age or medical condition, but most retirees choose to stay in their current plan year after year.

* Many retirees prefer the freedom fee-for-service plans offer to choose their own doctors and hospitals.

* Many retirees--especially those who travel often or have two homes in different parts of the country--can't use local HMOs because they only cover emergency situations outside the HMO area.

But everybody should do the homework for the open enrollment period that runs from Nov. 8 through Dec. 13.

Workers and retirees pay the same amount in premiums when enrolled in the same plans. That statement confuses some retirees because premium breakdowns are usually shown for active-duty workers, who pay premiums 26 times a year. Retirees pay premiums 12 times a year.

Here's the rundown on monthly premiums retirees will pay next year in the fee-for-service plans open to all of them. We will run a list of retiree HMO premiums later this week:

Alliance: Self only, $120.44 a month, down $14.67 from 1999 premiums. Family, $236.17, down $33.76.

American Postal Workers Union: Self only, $86.06, up $6.54. Family, $182.43, up $12.80.

Blue Cross: High option, self only, $143.63, up $5.89. Family, $291.09, up $10.24. Standard option, self only, $65.09, up $4.81. Family, $144.69, up $9.66.

GEHA: Self only, $99.06, up $20.52. Family, $200.78, up $42.16.

Mail Handlers: High option, self only, $98.43, up $14.17. Family, $186.61, up $27.08. Standard option, self only, $45.68, up $4.15. Family, $99.15, up $9.02.

NALC: Self only, $101.55, up $8.08. Family, $200.76, up $14.88.

Postmasters: High option, self only, $264.66, up $13.82. Family, $558.28, up $27.70. Standard option, self only, $94.49, up $3.84. Family, $192.59, up $6.28.

Outgoing

Eugene S. Hoch is leaving the Defense Department after 43 years of federal civilian and military service. He is deputy director of the Air Force Pentagon Communications Agency's Air Staff Systems. His sendoff luncheon is Thursday.

Incoming

The Census Bureau's Russ Davis has been elected president of the American Federation of Government Employees National Capital Region. Other officers are Marilyn Wiley, Office of Personnel Management; Larry Drake, Labor Department; Leon Parris, Defense Department; Ron Carberry, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Lemuel Thomas, Air Force; Millie Graves, OPM; Paula Parrot, Labor; and Avis Buchanan, Census Bureau.

Literacy Drive

Education Secretary Richard W. Riley will give the administration's seal of approval to a literacy fund-raising program to be outlined at 1 p.m. today at the National Press Club.

Although Riley is a natural choice for the task, the fact that he is often referred to as President Clinton's favorite Cabinet member is an added boost for the fund-raiser. GTE Corp.'s chief executive officer, Charles R. Lee, will announce the program, which will allow GTE customers to voluntarily add $1 to their monthly phone bills. The money will be sent to local and national groups promoting literacy.

Morton Bahr, president of the Communications Workers of America, and Rep. William F. Goodling (R-Pa.), a former teacher, will be on hand to show union and bipartisan political support.

Backers say such a program could raise $100 million a year. The president and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton have called on individuals and companies to do more to help worthy local and national social programs.

Georgia Job

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta needs a Grade 12 or 13 systems accountant for its financial management office. It will pay moving expenses. Check out announcement MP2-00-012 on CDC's job line: 1-888-232-4473.

Executive Rights, Responsibilities

The Senior Executives Association is sponsoring a rights and responsibilities seminar Nov. 30 and Jan. 18 at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel. SEA General Counsel G. Jerry Shaw and Washington lawyer William Bransford will talk about surviving and thriving as a career federal executive. The price is $95, and each session is limited to 75 participants. Call SEA at 202-927-7000.

Mike Causey's e-mail address is causeym@washpost.com