The Office of Personnel Management has extended the deadline for feds to make changes to their federal long term health insurance plans.
Employees now have until Feb. 15, more than two extra months, to review changes to the program and decide on their options, according to employee union and congressional sources.
During this extra decision period, employees will face no changes to their premiums.
Employee unions and lawmakers encouraged OPM officials to extend the deadline last week during a Senate hearing on the increase in premiums that surprised many policy holders.
OPM said in September that many of the more than 225,000 federal employees and retirees who have policies under the plans face up to a 25 percent increase in their premiums. Many of these policy holders initially believed they would never see premiums increase if they took on the more expensive option, called automatic compound inflation (ACI) plan.
But during a joint hearing of the Senate Special Committee on Aging and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees last week, OPM and John Hancock, who underwrites the long term care insurance program, said increases were necessary because more people than expected remain in the program, and it is running at large deficit.
“We are pleased that federal employees, retirees and survivors will have more time to carefully weigh what long-term care insurance coverage they will have in light of the 25-percent premium increase,” says National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) president Margaret Baptiste in a release. “However, the decisions FLTCIP enrollees will be compelled to make continue to go from bad to worse because they’ll have to give up coverage to steer clear of the rate hike.”
Colleen Kelley, the president of the National Treasury Employees Union, also calls this move by OPM a positive step.