Federal Workers’ Long Term Care Plan May Follow CalPERS
The Washington Post's "Federal Diary" column today gives a "peek" at how the long term care insurance program for federal employees will operate when it becomes available in October 2002, saying it will likely be modeled in part after coverage offered by the California Public Employees' Retirement System. Starting next month, the Office of Personnel Management will request bids to "create what will be the largest employer-sponsored long term care program in the country," with an eligible pool of some 20 million federal employees, retirees and family members, along with members of the military community. OPM officials have said that the cost of coverage will not be certain until a contract is finalized later this year, but similar to CalPERS, "the federal program will offer the choice of coverage for a set number of years or lifetime coverage, varying levels of benefits per day, optional inflation protection and premiums fixed at the rate applying to the enrollee's age at the time of purchase," the Post reports.
According to Dan Schroepfer, chief of the CalPERS' office of long term care, most eligible employees who sign up for long term coverage do so after they turn 45. But "[w]hile interest in the federal program is high, experience shows" that only 3% to 6% of workers usually sign up for employer-sponsored care coverage; the rate among retirees is 10% to 15%. Only about 144,000, or 3%, of CalPERS' 5 million eligible employees have enrolled in the long term care program. "The big thing is getting people to recognize that the program is available and that they're not covered by their health insurance coverage. A lot of people have the misconception that their health insurance or Medicare is going to pay for their nursing home care. That just isn't going to happen," Schroepfer said. To help eliminate some enrollee confusion, the federal program will "limi[t] the number of combinations [of benefits] and special rules available," the Post reports (Barr, Washington Post, 5/31). More information about the federal program is available from the OPM at http://www.opm.gov/insure/ltc/index.htm.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.