Two House Democrats active in civil service issues have prodded OPM for that agency’s plans to prevent a repeat of the kind of steep premium increases that occurred last year for most enrollees in the FLTCIP long-term care insurance program.
Most enrollees were hit last year with premium increases averaging 83 percent and ranging up to 126 percent, following issuance of a new contract between OPM and the provider, Long-Term Care Partners. OPM said the increases were necessary because new projections of future outlays in the self-funding program far exceeded the amount being paid in. Many enrollees and some members of Congress criticized OPM and the carrier for being so far off in its projections when negotiating the prior contract seven years before.
During a special election period late in the summer, enrollees were given a range of options, including reducing their benefits to soften or eliminate the impact, or in some cases electing a paid-up option with a much reduced benefit.
Late last year, the House federal workforce subcommittee held a hearing at which OPM was asked what it was doing to prevent a recurrence; OPM responded, essentially, that it was working on it. Now six months later, Reps. Don Beyer and Gerald Connolly, both Virginia Democrats, have written to OPM saying “we made it clear that those answers were not sufficient and that the subcommittee would expect a timeline and solutions.
“In order to avoid premium price shock each time there is a new FLTCIP contract, we must have an understanding of how OPM plans to address these urgent matters going forward,” they added. Enrollees “must be able to plan and prepare” for possible premium increases or changes in plan terms, they said.