Expert's View

For the first time since 2002, there will be an open season in the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program for active federal and postal employees, their spouses and domestic partners meeting certain qualifications. It will run from April 4 through June 24.

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The main drawing card is that if you sign up, you will only be subject to abbreviated underwriting. This means that you will have to answer fewer questions about your health.

In abbreviated underwriting, the application has several health-related questions designed to determine who may be immediately eligible for benefits, or eligible for benefits within a short period of time. The questions ask whether the applicants: currently are receiving long-term care type services; are being (or have been) treated for certain conditions, including Alzheimer’s; use certain types of medical devices; or have been diagnosed with mental or nervous disorders that have required hospitalization. Spouses and partners eligible for abbreviated underwriting also must answer whether they require help with certain activities or use crutches or a multi-prong cane.

In full underwriting, in addition to the questions applying in abbreviated underwriting, there are additional medical questions as well as lifestyle-type questions, including queries on exercise habits and use of alcohol and tobacco. It may also include a review of medical records and/or a personal interview.

The forms are available at the following websites: www.ltcfeds.com/documents/files/abb_underwriting_app_04-03-07.pdf  www.ltcfeds.com/documents/files/full_underwriting_app_04-03-07.pdf

You can download the FLTCIP 2.0 Open Season Application by going to www.FTCFEDS.com/apply. You can submit your application by mail or fax or, if you wait until April 4, you’ll be able to apply online.

If you sit out this open season, you’ll still be able to apply; however, as a rule, you’ll be required to use a full underwriting application. The exception is that if you are a newly eligible person –such as a new hiree or a newly married spouse of a federal employee–you can apply using the abbreviated underwriting application within 60 days of your eligibility (or up to the end of the open season, if later). After that initial period, full underwriting will be required.

Annuitants and other qualified persons who are not currently enrolled can join the program at any time but are subject to full underwriting at all times, even during an open season. Therefore, the open season doesn’t affect them, except perhaps to raise their awareness that the benefit is available and to spur them to actively consider enrolling.

Similarly, if you are a current FLTCIP enrollee, this open season isn’t for you. You can make changes to your coverage at any time. However, you might similarly use this as an opportunity to reexamine the coverage you have and decide whether it best suits your needs.