Government employees might be starting to warm up to the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program.

Officials at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management are reporting signs of increasing interest in the program in a summary of results from a Web-based survey of 2,000 federal employees.

The OPM hired private insurers to run the voluntary, entirely employee paid program LTC insurance program in December 2001.

About 33% of survey participants called the LTC insurance program a “very important” benefit. In contrast, about three-quarters of the employees classified health benefits, retiree health benefits and retirement benefits as “very important.”

But the LTC insurance came in ahead of the federal government’s flexible spending account and wellness programs, researchers report in the survey results summary.

Wellness programs earned a top importance rating from only 29% of the survey participants, and just 21% of the participants said the FSA program is “very important.”

Other responses suggested that familiarity with the federal LTC program is relatively low.

Only about 25% of federal employees are age 55 or older, and 57% said they do not know what kind of value the LTC insurance program provides.

“Do not know” rates were below 25% for most other benefits studied.

But 54% of the participants who did have an opinion about whether the LTC insurance program provides value said it provides “good value” or “excellent value.”

That percentage is lower than the “good value” percentage for any other program included, but it has jumped up from 43% in 2004, OPM officials report.

“Long term care insurance had the largest increase,” officials say.

Similarly, the percentage of participants who said the federal LTC insurance program is “competitive” with LTC insurance benefits from non-federal employers has increased to 64%, from 51%, in just 2 years, officials say.