OPM to launch long-term care insurance open season

Update: OPM corrected the dates of open season in a Feb. 3 notice in the Federal Register. This story has been updated to reflect that change.

Federal employees, retirees and their relatives, including same-sex domestic partners, will be able to apply for the government's long-term care insurance option this spring.

In a Federal Register notice issued on Friday, the Office of Personnel Management announced that open season for the Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program will run from April 4 through June 24. Same-sex domestic partners of federal workers for the first time will be able to enroll in the program, which helps pay for the cost of care when participants need help with daily activities, or have a severe cognitive illness.

OPM in June 2010 issued a final regulation broadening the definition of relatives qualified to participate in the long-term care insurance program to include the same-sex domestic partners of federal employees, U.S. Postal Service workers and retirees. Prior to the new rule, which took effect on July 1, 2010, only spouses, parents and adult children were eligible for coverage.

The expansion of coverage follows a June 2009 presidential memorandum asking that government do as much as it can legally to put same-sex domestic partners on equal footing with heterosexual married couples.

According to OPM, active federal employees, their spouses and same-sex domestic partners who currently are not enrolled can apply under abbreviated underwriting rules and will have to provide only limited health information. Retirees and other qualified relatives will undergo a longer review of medical and health history in the application process.

Coverage will begin on the first day of the month after an application is approved, and premiums will be based on the enrollee's age and option selected, according to the notice.

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