NU Online News Service, Dec. 19, 11:48 p.m. – The U.S. Office of Personnel Management has picked a partnership formed by MetLife Inc., New York, and John Hancock Financial Services Inc., Boston, to start a long-term care insurance program for federal employees, retirees and dependents.

The partnership, Long Term Care Partners L.L.C., Portsmouth, N.H., is supposed to begin selling LTC coverage through a new Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program by October 2002.

The program is open to 20 million Americans, but participation is voluntary, and plan members will have to pay 100% of the cost of coverage.

Federal employees can already buy LTC coverage through union and association programs.

But supporters say the new program should do more to increase awareness, inside and outside the federal workforce, because it will operate with the support of the federal personnel office.

The program could attract as many as 1 million members, supporters say.

Personnel office officials say bid evaluators picked Long Term Care Partners because of its financial resources, its LTC experience, and the reputations of its parent companies.

“Separately, each has name recognition with the public that inspires trust,” officials note in a statement.

MetLife and Hancock put out a statement of their own saying they teamed up because of the size and complexity of the program.

The companies report they are still making reinsurance arrangements and coming up with final coverage details..

The government posts regular updates about the federal employee LTC program on the Web, at http://www.opm.gov/insure/ltc/index.htm