Open season for long term care starts April

Friday - 1/28/2011, 5:59pm EST

By Meg Beasley
Reporter
Federal News Radio

If you haven't yet enrolled in long term care insurance, you will have the opportunity to do so more easily starting in April.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced the open season for its Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP).

FLTCIP is designed for individuals who can no longer care for themselves due to chronic illness, injury, disability or the aging process. There is no age requirement for eligibility.

The open season will run from April 4 through May 27 and is only the second ever for FLTCIP. It is available to individuals who are not currently enrolled in FLTCIP. The open season period is the time during which a majority of feds can apply for the program under abbreviated underwriting.

Abbreviated underwriting means applicants are asked fewer questions. According to Tom Bebbington, a spokesperson for the company that administers the program, the abbreviated process largely takes the fact that employees go to work every day as a sign that they are in good health.

Employees who are no longer in the workforce must apply under full underwriting, a longer process that requires more proof of their health status. Eligible employees can enroll in FLTCIP at any time during the year, but must go through the full underwriting requirement. New hires and their spouses and newly-married spouses of active employees are exceptions and may use abbreviated underwriting outside of open season. Open season makes the process faster and easier for all active employees by allowing them to use the shorter process.

New this year is the addition of same-sex domestic partners of civilian active workforce members as a type of qualified relative eligible to apply for FLTCIP. The change is pursuant to the President's Memorandum of June 17, 2009 on Federal Benefits and Non-Discrimination. Same sex domestic partners will be eligible for abbreviated underwriting, the same coverage available to all active workforce members and their families.

Individuals eligible for open season enrollment include:

  • Active civilian workforce members and annuitants to include federal civilian or Postal Service employees whose current position qualifies them for Federal Employees Health Benefits coverage.
  • Spouses, same-sex domestic partners, parents and adult children of active civilian workforce members
  • Members of the uniformed services--those who are on active duty or full-time National Guard duty for more than a 30-day period or are active members of the selected reserve.
  • Spouses of members of the uniformed services

FLTCIP is a long term care insurance plan sponsored by OPM and supported by John Hancock Life and Health Insurance Company. OPM made significant changes to the plan in 2009. The added benefits in FTLCIP 2.0 are more competitive with private long term care insurance options. Under the program, employees can purchase a pre-packaged plan or design their own.

FLTCIP provides reimbursement for costs of necessary diagnostic, preventive, therapeutic, curative, rehabilitative, maintenance, or personal care services. The services must be provided in a setting such as an assisted living facility, a nursing home, an adult day care center or the home. It does not cover services in an acute care unit of a hospital.

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