The notice does not specify whether any premium changes would apply to current enrollees or just new ones after a certain date. Image: Panchenko Vladimir/Shutterstock.com

OPM has said that it “has determined that there is a strong likelihood” that Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program premium rates will need to be “revised” — which history suggests will mean “raised.”

A notice in the June 3 Federal Register says that OPM “anticipates a need” to conduct a review of premium and claims rates in the program over as long as 24 months, and that during that time it would stop allowing new enrollments in the program or upgrades of benefit packages by current enrollees.

Such a period would allow for “the development and review of pricing assumptions and rates in order to ensure the premium rates reasonably and equitably reflect the cost of the benefits provided” as well as possible changes to future underwriting requirements, OPM said.

The notice does not specify whether any premium changes would apply only to those who enroll after a certain point or to current enrollees, as well; both have occurred in the past (see related story: FLTCIP Program Has History of Benefit Reductions, Premium Increases).

It also does not specify when OPM would start such a period other than to say it would happen after the proposed rules were finalized. The rules have a 30-day comment period although finalizing rules typically takes a number of months after a comment period is closed.

The notice also states OPM’s intent to end the policy of allowing newly hired employees and their spouses to apply within 60 days using only “abbreviated” underwriting—which asks fewer questions about the applicant’s health and ability to carry out daily activities than does “full” underwriting that applies at other times. Unlike other federal insurance programs, eligible persons—nearly all federal employees, retirees, spouses and adult children plus similarly situated members of the military community—may apply at any time, but are subject to underwriting meant to screen out those who would be eligible for benefits imminently.

In practice, “FLTCIP enrollment is much more common later in one’s career than when someone is newly hired,” OPM said, saying that only 8 percent of the program’s enrollees applied during such a period.

OPM said that instead, it would announce “special application periods” in which abbreviated underwriting would apply.

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2022 Federal Employees Handbook