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Long-term care insurance: Why those in their 70s should act now

Long-term care insurance may still be a viable option in your 70s, but should act quickly.  fab fernandez / Getty Images

Long-term care insurance isn't a product that most younger adults are racing to get their hands on. However, the need for this type of insurance grows exponentially as you age. Once you reach 65 years old, you have a significantly elevated need for long-term care assistance. So, if you're in your 70s and don't already have coverage, now is the time to act. 

After all, being able to afford long-term care services can be challenging. Even the lowest cost long-term care support can set you back tens of thousands of dollars per year. And if you need the type of assistance that nursing homes provide, you could end up paying over $100,000 per year for that care. This is why seniors in their 70s should consider acting now.

Lock in your long-term care insurance coverage now before it's too late

Long-term care insurance: Why those in their 70s should act now

While the optimal time to purchase long-term care insurance is typically when you're in your 50s, it's an even more important consideration when you're in your 70s. In fact, if you're in your 70s, and don't already have a plan to cover your long-term care costs, you should purchase a policy now. Here's why:

Long-term care costs will likely only rise

Long-term care services are costly. Current costs for this type of support range from tens of thousands of dollars to over a hundred thousand dollars annually. And unfortunately, that cost isn't likely to fall.

Healthcare services - like long-term care - are not immune to the impact of inflation. And lately, inflation rates have been higher than expected. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical care services were 2.1% more expensive in March than they were one year earlier. As prices continue to grow, adequate long-term care services will likely become even more difficult to afford in the years ahead.   

And at 70 years old, you may be on a fixed income. As such, it may be impossible for you to keep up with the growing cost of long-term care without the help an insurance policy can provide.

Purchase long-term care insurance now to make sure you can cover the growing cost of care

Long-term care insurance will only become more expensive

Long-term care insurance companies have to consider the financial risk involved in writing policies. In turn, those policies tend to come with higher premiums as you age. So, acting now, even while you're in your 70s, will likely yield better premiums than you could access in the years ahead. 

"A person applying for a LTC insurance policy at an older age will have a shorter time period before filing a claim to access their policy benefits," says Lori Martin, CLTC, and instructor for Certification for Long-Term Care, a firm that provides certifications for long-term care insurance agents. As a result, she says, the "LTC insurance carrier is not collecting as much premium dollars and premiums are not invested for a longer period of time." That leads to higher premium prices for older applicants.

And, insurers have to account for health issues that may come later in life. "Older individuals may have health issues later in life that aren't discovered during the application underwriting process," says Martin. So, further risk is involved for the insurer, typically leading to a higher cost for older applicants. 

Coverage options may become more limited

As you age, your long-term care insurance coverage options will likely begin to dwindle. And if you wait too long after you're 70 years old, you may not qualify for coverage at all. 

"A barrier for this age group is acceptance since the rejection rate by 70 years old is about 50%," explains Afik Gal, co-founder and president of Assured Allies, a financial planning and insurance firm that serves seniors. But, you may still have adequate coverage options if you act quickly. So, you shouldn't wait to shop for coverage. 

The bottom line

Long-term care insurance is an effective way to plan for the cost of your care in the future. However, as you age, the cost of that insurance could climb and the availability of adequate policies may dwindle. The good news is that you still may have quality coverage options available to you, even in your 70s. But, it's important to act now to make sure you don't miss your opportunity to purchase a policy, and that, when you do, you get the lowest premiums possible. 

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