Toll-Free Line Has Answers to Long Term-Care Questions
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 8, 2004 Got questions? Long Term Care Partners has answers.
For any federal employee trying to decide if the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program is right for them, FLTCIP Consultative Services Unit offers a toll-free hotline.
On the other end of the line are consultants, not commissioned sales people -- so no hard-sell tactics to worry about. Because they have a broad base of knowledge on the FLTCIP product, as well as of the industry and competitive products, they can answer any of your questions objectively.
The consultants, trained by Long Term Care Partners, mostly come from customer- service backgrounds, said Joan Melanson, director of program promotions for LTC Partners. John Hancock and MetLife formed LTC Partners after OPM selected them as the federal government's long-term-care insurers in 2001.
Consultants are also available for call back. This means you don't have to start over with someone new if you have another question and call again. This not only saves the caller the frustration of having to repeat their information, it also saves consultants time because they don't have to get newly acquainted with every caller.
"We establish such wonderful relationships. We have some people call back and say, 'I just wanted to call back and let you know I was approved,'" Melanson said. "We get incredible compliments that come back through e-mails or people calling or sending letters. They really like the service that they get."
Currently, there are approximately 205,000 people enrolled in the program. LTC Partners recommend enrolling early.
"You're never too young to enroll. You never know when you might need it," Melanson said. "The younger, the better, because you'll pass medical underwriting. It is a medically underwritten program, and the premiums are a lot lower (for healthy people)."
While the insurance program is not recommended for those who qualify for Medicaid, anyone who has $30,000 or more in assets to protect should consider the coverage. Enrollment at an younger age has its benefits, such as lower premiums.
If you already have a long term-care insurance policy, but it was purchased a few years or more ago, FLTCIP can be used as a supplemental policy. It can add new benefits that weren't available when the old policy was purchased.
"If someone has purchased a product in the past, we're very reluctant to replace it. If someone purchased it five or six or eight years ago, the premiums were calculated at (the individual's age at the time), but it might not have some of the newer features," Melanson said. "So it may make sense to purchase a supplemental policy to add on."
Consultants can also offer a rate quote based on personal needs right on the phone. If preferred, the quote can also be mailed.
A Web site is also available and provides comprehensive information on both FLTCIP and the long term-care industry. A rate quote can also be generated through the Web site, which Melanson said is excellent for younger employees who may not be ready to enroll in a long-term insurance program, but are curious about coverage.
She said the average age for enrollment is the "pre-retirement" age: late 40s to 60. In fact, pre-retirement seminars are sometimes the first exposure employees have to information about long term-care programs.
People put off getting this kind of coverage until they are older, she said. However, she added, statistics show that 63 percent of claimants are under the age of 65.
The toll-free number, 1-800-LTC-FEDS (1-800-582-3337) is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. Eastern Time. Consultants have been taking more than 5,000 inbound calls a month, Melanson said.