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Military, Civilian Feds Can Buy New Long-Term Care Insurance

By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2002 – A new program starting later this month will offer long-term care insurance to military and civilian federal employees and their families.

The federal Office of Personnel Management has contracted with John Hancock and MetLife insurance companies to provide this additional benefit for all federal employees and retirees.

The insurance program is designed to cover expenses associated with long-term medical care in a nursing home or in the patient's home. Federal employees will be able to purchase the insurance for themselves or their families, including parents. Federal retirees are entitled to enroll only themselves and their spouses in the program, according to information on the program's Internet home page, www.opm.gov/insure/ltc.

An early enrollment period is scheduled from March 25 to May 15, followed by an open-enrollment season beginning July 1. Applicants may be required to answer health-related questions, provide medical records or be interviewed personally to be eligible for the insurance.

Program managers haven't announced premiums yet, but rates will vary based on amount of coverage, type of inflation protection chosen and current age of the person being covered. Officials plan to include a rate calculator on the Web site by the time the early enrollment period starts.

Service members and federal civilian workers initially might think they needn't worry about long-term care insurance, but perhaps they should, officials said. Medicare, TRICARE and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program are not designed to cover long-term care, they noted.

The usual practice in similar civilian programs is the younger and healthier the beneficiary at enrollment, the lower the premiums. That should also be true in the federal version, said Frank Titus, OPM assistant director for long- term care.

Federal officials emphasized the government pays no part of the premiums or benefits.

Those officials recommended individuals who want more information on issues surrounding long-term care and on the federal program to sign up for an e-mail newsletter, "Get Smart About Your Future," at https://ltcfeds.com/pre_reg.html [link no longer available], or to visit www.ltcfeds.com.

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