About 98% of the federal employees and dependents who signed up for the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program coverage last year will be keeping their coverage this year.

The high persistency rate helped the voluntary long term care (LTC) insurance program increased enrollment 20%, to 270,000, according to officials at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

The program is the largest employer-sponsored LTC insurance plan in the United States, OPM officials say.

Premiums increased, but the program is offering a package of new benefits, such as expanded home health care benefits, sought by current enrollees, officials say.

The program is open to federal and U.S. Postal Service employees and annuitants, active and retired members of the uniformed services, and some relatives. Premiums are based on the applicant’s age at the time of enrollment and on the level of benefits chosen.

When the plan started up in 2001, the program was administered by a consortium owned by units of MetLife Inc., New York (MET), and John Hancock, Boston, which is now a unit of Manulife Financial Corp., Toronto (TSX:MFC). The consortium projected enrollment would reach about 340,000 by 2005.

When OPM officials renewed the program in 2009, the MetLife unit dropped out. Manulife now owns the entity that provides the LTC coverage. – Allison Bell

Other federal LTC program coverage from National Underwriter Life & Health: