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The 5 best times to buy long-term care insurance

If you're going to purchase long-term care insurance, it's important to get the timing right. Getty Images

When it comes to the cost of long-term care, paying out of pocket may not be feasible for most Americans. According to a 2023 survey conducted by KFF, an independent health policy research firm, about 90% of adults say it would be difficult or impossible to pay the estimated $100,000 for one year at a nursing home. And, about 83% say they would find it difficult or impossible to pay the estimated $60,000 for one year of assistance from a paid nurse or aide.

But the good news is that there are options aside from paying out of pocket for these costs. For example, long-term care insurance can help cover these expenses, which most older adults will face at some point in their lives. And, long-term care insurance can offer other benefits, too, like helping to pay for you to age at home — or include other types of coverage — though it depends on the policy. 

But while long-term care insurance can be an important part of your retirement plan, when is it best to purchase long-term care insurance?

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

The 5 best times to buy long-term care insurance

There are a few times in which you may want to consider buying long-term care insurance, including:

When you're young

"Premiums are designed to remain level (though they may increase under certain circumstances) and buying young brings a considerably lower premium than buying at, say, age 60 or 65," says Celeste R. Cobb, director of education at Certification for Long-Term Care. 

That's not the only reason it makes sense to purchase coverage when you're young, though. With long-term care insurance, your health status also plays a role in the acceptance process — and the younger you are, the healthier you're likely to be.

"Buying when we are younger, and typically healthier, means we have a greater likelihood of acceptance," says Cobb. "Once you are accepted, the carrier cannot change that underwriting decision."

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When you're unable to cover the costs out of pocket

Long-term care is expensive, and the cost of this type of care is increasing. For example, a private room in a nursing home is expected to cost, on average, about $118,457 in 2024, according to Genworth. The cost of an assisted living facility is expected to average about $59,007 annually this year. If you aren't sure you can cover those types of expenses out of pocket, this may be a good time to purchase a long-term care insurance policy. 

When you want to age at home

Long-term care insurance can also be used to help you age at home, as many policies offer coverage for services like home health aides and adult daycare. And some — like cash benefit policies — may also help cover the cost of home renovations for accessibility purposes or offer coverage for family caregivers. 

When you don't want to burden your loved ones

Even if your loved ones are willing to help with your long-term care, they may need to take care of their responsibilities, too. In turn, adult daycare and other supplemental services may be necessary to give your family caregivers a break from time to time. And, long-term care insurance may help cover the costs of those services. 

When you want to protect your estate

If you don't have insurance to cover the cost of long-term care, you may, at some point, need to tap into your life's savings to pay for them. And given the high cost of this type of care, it can have a drastic impact on the value of your estate over time. 

Protect your estate with a long-term care insurance policy now

The bottom line

There are certain times when purchasing a long-term care insurance policy makes sense, but the best time to purchase coverage may be right now. After all, the sooner you purchase long-term care insurance, the higher your chances of approval are — and the lower your premiums are likely to be. 

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