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Should people in their 50s buy long-term care insurance?

People in their 50s should start looking into long-term care insurance. Getty Images

Getting old brings a lot of expenses and one of the most prominent is the cost of medical care. While Medicare will eventually pay for a lot of your needs, one thing it does not cover is long-term care. This could include nursing homes, assisted living facilities, occupational therapists and in-home caretakers. These can be quite pricey – a year in a nursing home could cost more than $100,000, depending on where you live.

Luckily, there is a way to prepare for these costs – purchasing long-term care insurance. Some people may wonder, though, when exactly they should start looking for a long-term care insurance policy. Below, we'll break down what you need to know to make sure you buy a policy at the right time for you.

Ready to get long-term care insurance? Start shopping online today.

Should people in their 50s buy long-term care insurance?

Long story short – once you reach your 50s, it's probably time to start looking into buying long-term care insurance. It's generally accepted that the sweet spot for purchasing a policy is between the ages of 55 and 65. 

"Long-term care insurance - like life insurance - is cheaper the younger and healthier you are," says Jeff Beligotti, vice president and head of long-term care solutions at New York Life. "That said, options exist for individuals in their 60s and even 70s, but waiting until then increases the costs and decreases the likelihood of passing underwriting."

Here are some other factors to consider when trying to determine if you should purchase a policy in your 50s:

Premium cost

You may be able to purchase long-term care insurance later in life, but it will cost you more. The fact is that younger individuals are much less likely to need long-term care services immediately than older people, so insurance companies charge higher premiums as you get older. 

For a policy paying $165,000 in benefits, the average premium for a 55-year-old man is $950. At 60, it's $1,175, and at 65 the cost will be $1,700. There are similar cost increases for women and married couples purchasing combined insurance policies.

If you want to pay the least possible for what you need, buying long-term care insurance in your 50s is the better bet.

Start looking for a long-term care insurance policy right now.

Health matters

Long-term care insurance generally requires a health check before you buy a policy. This is another good reason to buying it when you are in your 50s rather than waiting much longer.

The simple fact is that as you get older you're more likely to run into health issues. This will give insurance companies more excuses to either deny you coverage or make your premiums very high. Buying your policy in your 50s, when you are hopefully still relatively healthy, gives you the best chance of getting good coverage at a reasonable price. 

Time to plan

Another reason to purchase long-term care insurance in your 50s is that you'll have plenty of time to make a plan for how to deal with aging. Some people, for instance, have no problem moving into a nursing home. Knowing your benefits and how much you'll be able to afford early will let you start to figure out where you might go and how you'll pay for it. Other people are determined to stay in their homes, so having long-term care insurance will let you figure out what services you might need and how they will fit into your budget.

The bottom line

Once you reach your 50s, it is probably time to start looking into long-term care insurance. Buying a policy in your 50s will keep your premium costs manageable, making it much more likely you'll be healthy enough to get a decent deal. Buying insurance in your 50s also gives you plenty of time to plan your future based on the benefit you are set to receive. 

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