Fedweek

The notice comes just days after OPM finalized proposed rules clearing the way for OPM to take that action pending a review of the program’s finances. Image: CI Photos/Shutterstock.com

Effective December 19 and through the following 24 months the Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program will not accept new enrollments or requests for increases in existing coverage, OPM has said.

“During the suspension period, no applications for FLTCIP coverage will be accepted, and current enrollees may not apply to increase their coverage,” OPM said in a November 18 Federal Register notice. Eligible persons who apply before December 19 “will have their application considered. If the carrier approves the application for coverage, the individual will receive a benefit booklet and schedule of benefits with complete coverage information.”

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“OPM is suspending applications for coverage in FLTCIP to allow OPM and the FLTCIP Carrier to assess the benefit offerings and establish sustainable premium rates that reasonably and equitably reflect the cost of the benefits provided,” it said.

The notice comes just days after OPM finalized proposed rules clearing the way for OPM to take that action pending a review of the program’s finances. In proposing those rules and in finalizing them, OPM strongly hinted that increases in premiums lie ahead. A recent report from the inspector general at OPM similarly had projected the need to increase premiums and/or restrict benefits, primarily citing higher claims rates and lower rates of return on the program’s trust fund than had been assumed.

Whether any increases would apply only to future enrollees or to current enrollees as well is to be determined. Both have occurred in prior premium increases.

The FLTCIP program has the lowest enrollment rate among the four government-sponsored insurance programs for federal employees and retirees and also has some unique features. Until the upcoming suspension, eligible persons have been allowed apply at any time, although coverage is not guaranteed; instead, applicants undergo underwriting designed to determine if they would be likely to file claims soon.

In its earlier notice, OPM also signaled that another potential outcome of the review would be an end to the policy of using only shortened underwriting for newly hired employees and their spouses.

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