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

If you're purchasing a long-term care insurance policy, make sure you know what age is best to buy at. Getty Images/iStockphoto

The vast majority of Americans will need some form of long-term care by age 65, and, unfortunately, the cost of that care is rising dramatically. As such, it's typically best to have a plan in place to cover these types of costs before the need for long-term care arises. That's where long-term care insurance comes in. 

Long-term care insurance offers an affordable way to prepare for the high cost of care you may face later in life. This type of coverage provides you with the freedom to choose the type of care you'd like while protecting your dignity, your assets and those you love.

The need for long-term care insurance is clear, but what is the best age to purchase a policy?

Buy long-term care insurance today for better rates and improved accessibility

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

The best age for you to purchase your long-term care policy is typically in your mid-50s. Here are three reasons why: 

Your access

When you shop for long-term care insurance, your health plays a major factor in your access to coverage. After all, if you're already facing health issues when you apply for insurance, offering you coverage could be seen as risky to the insurance company. As a result, they may refuse to insure you

The simple fact is that health generally declines with age. That means you'll typically have a better chance of qualifying for long-term care insurance if you purchase a policy when you're in your 50s rather than your 60s or 70s. 

Don't wait until it's too late. Purchase long-term care insurance now

Your policy premiums

Your age doesn't just play a role in your access to long-term care insurance; it's also a factor in the premiums you pay. In general, you'll pay lower premiums if you enroll in a policy in your mid-50s than you would in your early to mid-60s.

So how much of a difference can a few years make? Here are the costs for $165,000 in level benefits for a single male at different ages (based on 2022 rate data from the American Association for Long-term Care Insurance):

  • Age 55: $79.16
  • Age 60: $97.91
  • Age 65: $141.66

There is also a similar age-based increase in premiums for single females and couples. 

Single females:

  • Age 55: $125.00 
  • Age 60: $158.33
  • Age 65: $216.66

Couples (of the same age):

  • Age 55: $173.33 
  • Age 60: $216.66
  • Age 65: $312.50

What this data indicates is that the sooner you get long-term care insurance, the lower your premiums are likely to be. 

Your ability to plan for your care

Long-term care insurance helps you cover the future cost of care, but it doesn't create a long-term care plan for you. That's something you should do with your spouse, with a retirement planning professional or on your own. 

Of course, it's a good idea to give yourself as much time to plan as possible. And when you purchase long-term care insurance in your 50s, you'll likely have several years between when you purchase your policy and when you need it. Those years give you adequate time to create a plan for your care later in life. 

Other long-term care insurance policy factors to consider

The price and accessibility of long-term care are important, but they're not the only factors you should consider when purchasing a policy. Other important factors include: 

  • The types of facilities covered: Some long-term care insurance policies only provide coverage for certain types of facilities while others cover you no matter where you are. Be sure that you're covered based on where you plan to be. For example, if you plan on aging in place, make sure you choose a policy that covers you at home. 
  • The types of caregivers covered: Some policies only cover formal caregivers while others cover caregivers like family and friends. Be sure the policy you purchase covers the type of caregiver you plan to have. 
  • Riders: Riders add coverage to your insurance policy. For example, some riders may protect you from inflation while others offer coverage for your spouse. Consider adding riders to your policy to build well-rounded coverage based on your unique needs. 
  • Coverage limits: All long-term care insurance policies have coverage limits. Make sure your policy offers enough coverage to meet your long-term needs. 

The bottom line

The earlier you purchase your long-term care policy, the better your chances typically are of accessing the amount of coverage you need at an affordable rate. If you wait too long to enroll, you could pay substantially higher premiums — or  you may be denied coverage. Purchase a long-term care policy today to lock in an affordable rate and effective coverage

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