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Is long-term care insurance worth buying in your 80s?

Long-term care insurance may still be worthwhile, even in your 80s.  Getty Images

Long-term care insurance - a product that's designed to help cover the cost of services like nursing homes and home health aides - is typically best purchased when you're young and your potential need for care is a long way off. But, what if you're in your 80s?

Since premiums typically rise with age, long-term care insurance can be expensive late in life. And, your health plays a role in your ability to qualify for coverage. Since health can decline as you age, it may be difficult to find a policy you qualify for in your 80s. But, it's not impossible. Then again, if you are able to qualify for long-term care insurance at this age, is it even worth purchasing? That's what we will break down below.

Chat with an expert about your long-term care insurance options today

Is long-term care insurance worth buying in your 80s?

"If someone is in their 80s and hasn't bought long-term care insurance yet, they'll need to take action very quickly to see if they have any long-term care insurance options available," explains Kelly Augspurger, CLTC, trainer for Certification for Long-Term Care, an education company that certifies long-term care insurance agents. "Options are mainly determined by health and age. Most carriers stop accepting applicants when clients are in their late 70s. However, there are some hybrid carriers that accept applications up to 85."

And, there are multiple reasons why purchasing long-term care insurance now, while you may still qualify, is worthwhile. 

Long-term care is expensive

The cost of long-term care support and services is high and growing. According to Genworth, the annual cost of an assisted living facility is expected to average around $66,126 this year. And, in 2025, that average cost is expected to be around $68,110 (nearly $2,000 higher per year). 

Though your premiums may be higher when you purchase long-term care insurance in your 80s than they would be if you purchased it earlier in life, they're typically far less expensive than paying for your care out of pocket. And, with most older adults needing care at some point, it's wise to purchase a policy in order to plan for that need. 

Find out how affordable your long-term care insurance can be now

Medicare doesn't typically cover long-term care

Many older adults are under the misconception that Medicare offers long-term care coverage. But, Medicare isn't designed to offer that kind of benefit. As such, if you planned on leaning on your Medicare, you may be surprised when you need care. 

While some state Medicaid programs do cover the cost of long-term care, that coverage is typically limited and hard to come by. In fact, in order to tap into state Medicaid long-term care coverage, you'll usually have to spend your assets until you have very little left and have limited retirement income. So, Medicaid is more of a last resort option than a plan for the future. 

On the other hand, long-term care insurance can help you plan for your care while allowing you to maintain your assets and retirement income. 

You don't have to lose your premiums if you don't need long-term care

Previously, if you didn't use your long-term care insurance for care, you typically lost the value you invested into it. If you had a policy and didn't need long-term care before you died, you would lose the premiums you paid for coverage. 

Today's policies are different. Many long-term care insurance policies offer hybrid coverage that provides a death benefit alongside your long-term care benefit. That way, if you don't need care before you die, your heirs will enjoy the value you built in your policy through the death benefit it provides. 

The bottom line

Whether you're in your 50s or you're in your 80s, long-term care insurance is an important consideration. Though it may be more costly for those in their 80s, it's usually well worth the premiums. After all, long-term care services can be expensive and Medicare doesn't usually cover the bill. And, this isn't a use it or lose it type of insurance anymore. These days, long-term care insurance is typically backed by a death benefit for those who don't use the coverage for care. So, chat with a long-term care insurance specialist about your options now.

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