What is the best age to buy long-term care insurance?

The thought of being incapable of living on your own and needing long-term care may seem like a far-off, distant scenario, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be thinking about how you will pay for long-term care sooner than later.

That’s because, all too often, individuals who seek long-term care only think about the cost of services once they need them—when it’s too late to plan ahead. This usually results in a bit of sticker shock. Consider these average monthly costs of care:1

  • Home health aide: $4,195
  • Adult day health care: $1,560
  • Assisted living facility: $4,000
  • Private room in a nursing home: $8,365

The reality is, paying for long-term care out of pocket requires significant financial assets, and it’s an expense that most retirees will need to plan ahead for. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 70% of 65-year-olds will need some type of long-term care services at some point in their remaining years.2

For many individuals, long-term care insurance is an option worth considering. Long-term care insurance is a great choice for people who don’t qualify for Medicaid but also can’t afford to pay for private care out of savings.

A long-term care insurance policy is designed to help you pay for the long-term care services you need. It typically reimburses the policyholder a monetary daily amount (up to a pre-selected limit) for assisted care services (such as eating, bathing or dressing). You can select a range of care options and benefits that allow you to get the services you need, where you need them.

What is the best age to buy long-term care insurance?

The timing is critical. Here are a few factors to keep in mind:

  • Most claims for long-term care insurance aren’t filed until a person is in their 70s or 80s.3 If you purchase long-term care insurance too early, you could pay many years of premiums before you’re likely to need care.
  • However, the older you get, the harder it is to get approved for a long-term care policy. Also, premiums correspond to age. The longer you wait, the higher your premiums will be.
  • Qualifying for coverage can become more difficult as you age, so the best time to apply is while you’re still in good health.

With that in mind, many people purchase long-term care insurance in their 50s. This helps applicants secure their coverage and premiums while they’re in good health. Their premiums are locked in, which means they can’t lose their coverage or good premiums as their age and health change.

How do I get long-term care insurance?

The first step in getting long-term care insurance is to set up a meeting with a licensed insurance agent. Your agent will help you find the plan that’s right for you. Most individual long-term care insurance policies require medical underwriting and may require a medical exam. Underwriters will review your medical history to determine if your application is acceptable and to identify your risk classification.

How much does long-term care insurance cost?

Your premium amount will be determined by your length of coverage, your age/gender, your current health, the elimination period (the amount of time before your policy begins to pay benefits) and the maximum dollar amount you can be reimbursed for covered expenses. Remember, qualifying for coverage can become more difficult as you age. The best time to apply is while you’re still in good health!

Ready to learn more?

Bankers Life is here to help you take the next step in creating your long-term care plan. Contact us here to get paired with a local Bankers Life agent.

1Genworth, Cost of Care Survey 2018, https://www.genworth.com/aging-and-you/finances/ cost-of-care.html, 2019.

2U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, How Much Care Will You Need?, https://longtermcare.acl.gov/the-basics/how-much-care-will-you-need.html, accessed 2020.

3Investopedia, The best time to get long-term care insurance, https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/052014/whats-best-time-get-longterm-care-insurance.asp#:~:text=The%20Best%20Age%20to%20Buy,in%20their%2070s%20or%2080s, referenced 2020.