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Incorrect long-term care info mailed to gov't workers

By Ed O'Keefe

Letters sent to tens of thousands of employees in the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program contained errors in calculating potential premiums, the Office of Personnel Management announced Friday. The errors mean enrollees now have until March 15, 2010 to review their options and make final decisions on coverage.

OPM learned of the errors from Long Term Care Partners, a subsidiary of the John Hancock Insurance Company, which operates the LTC program. The agency has asked the company to send new mailings to approximately 71,600 affected individuals, informing them of mistakes shown in the "Benefit Amount" section of their election letters.

News of the mistakes comes amid open enrollment season and as several thousand federal workers are awaiting more information about changes to their policy, which could include hefty rate increases of between 5 and 25 percent.

"Getting accurate, easy to understand information to our enrollees in a timely manner is my top priority," OPM Director John Berry said in a statement announcing the mistakes. "All companies participating in this program must take steps to ensure that similar errors are avoided in the future."

Many federal employees have raised concerns about marketing materials that advertised the LTC program and did not clearly state the possibility of a rate increase to enrollees who selected the Automatic Compound Inflation Option, or ACI. The option allows enrollees to pay more at a younger age and is designed to keep pace with annual inflation.

Enrollees with questions can call Long Term Care Partners at 1-800-582-3337.

By Ed O'Keefe  | November 13, 2009; 2:52 PM ET
Categories:  Workplace Issues  
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Comments

I bought into this program when it first started with the understanding (per the marketing) that the rates I paid would never be subject to increases. Now I'm completely, totally confused.

Posted by: seaduck2001 | November 13, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

What seaduck said.

More worrisome, how often are we going to have these increases? How much will the premiums rise? Why is there no ceiling on the increases - e.g. tying them to inflation? What happens if John Hancock determines it can't make a go of this business anymore, declares bankruptcy, and we who have paid premiums for decades are left out in the cold?

I too bought federal LCT insurance at a youngish age - 41 - thinking I was wise to plan for something I wouldn't likely need for another 40 or 50 years. I feel I am being punished for my prudence.

At least there should be decent oversight of the program by OPM.

Posted by: econgrrl | November 16, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

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