Fedweek

Those who newly enroll in the FLTCIP long-term care insurance program no longer have several options previously available, which will have the effect of limiting their available protection against inflation and requiring that they accept a cap on the amount their policy will pay.

OPM last week announced a new benefits package called “FLTCIP 3.0” effective with enrollments on or after last Monday (October 21)—which also was the date of the announcement, mirroring OPM’s prior practice of not signaling to persons not enrolled that changes are coming that they otherwise might have be able to avoid by getting in their applications on time to fall under the older rules.

In its announcement, OPM emphasized a new feature that is essentially a credit—based on a percentage of premiums paid—which is to be paid out as a death benefit, or in the form of a reduction in premiums for those past age 85, within various restrictions. In both cases that would be offset by any benefits received.

OPM says that will help stabilize rates in the program, which experienced increases in premiums for certain enrollees in 2010, another applying to all new enrollees starting in August 2015, and another in November 2016 for almost all those who had enrolled before August 2015. It did not explain exactly how that would be accomplished—although, for example, the credit will have no other cash value than in those two forms—nor did it call attention to the changes in inflation protection and total benefits:

* New enrollees still have the choice of either purchasing inflation protection as part of the basic premium or leaving themselves the option to purchase such protection in the future, subject to various restrictions. However, those who elect inflation protection will be allowed only 3 percent growth in their benefits; previously, they could choose either 4 or 5 percent.

* New enrollees still have the choice of purchasing coverage for two, three or five years (which when multiplied by the chosen daily benefit amount yields a figure that becomes the maximum the plan will pay, regardless of how long it takes). However, there is no longer an option to instead purchase coverage for life—with no limit on the benefits—that previously was available.

The changes do not affect those who were enrolled before October 21.