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What is the oldest age for long-term care insurance?

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Buying a long-term care insurance policy makes the most sense when you're young, but you may still have the option to purchase coverage as you age. Westend61/Getty Images

As our population continues to age and life expectancies rise, the need for long-term care services has become an increasingly important consideration for many people. But while this type of medical care, which includes nursing home care, assisted living, in-home support and adult day care services, is a vital consideration for many seniors, it doesn't come cheap. For example, a private room in the average nursing home currently comes with a price tag of over $100,000 per year, and those costs are expected to grow exponentially in the future.

But the good news is that the money for this type of care doesn't necessarily have to come out of your own pocket. One solution for covering these costs is long-term care insurance, which is a unique type of insurance that provides a financial safeguard against the potentially catastrophic costs associated with obtaining assistance for daily living activities such as bathing, dressing, eating and mobility. In turn, this type of policy can be particularly helpful for seniors who are concerned about the rising costs of long-term care.

That said, the average cost of long-term care insurance climbs as you age due to the higher likelihood that you'll need to utilize the benefits your long-term care insurance policy offers. So what is the maximum age at which one can still purchase long-term care insurance coverage? That's what we will discuss below.

Find out how affordable long-term care coverage could be now.

What is the oldest age for long-term care insurance?

While there is no set age in which you can no longer purchase long-term care insurance, the oldest age at which most insurance companies will issue a new long-term care insurance policy typically falls within the range of 75 to 80 years old. This age cutoff exists because as people grow older, their likelihood of requiring long-term care services in the near future increases substantially. From an insurer's perspective, providing coverage to those at very advanced ages poses a higher risk of claims being filed soon after the policy is issued, making it less financially viable for the company.

It's crucial to understand, though, that these age limits can vary among insurance providers. Some companies may be more flexible and willing to extend coverage to slightly older applicants on a case-by-case basis, while others may adhere to stricter age guidelines. And, factors such as an applicant's current health status, cognitive function and medical history can significantly influence an insurer's underwriting decisions, regardless of age.

But while it may be possible to secure long-term care insurance coverage at older ages, experts generally recommend exploring long-term care insurance options well before reaching the typical age limits imposed by insurance companies. For example, the ideal window to consider purchasing a policy is typically between the ages of 55 and 65.

Learn more about your long-term care insurance policy options here.

The benefits of buying long-term care insurance at a younger age

There are several advantages to obtaining long-term care insurance at a younger age, which can make it a more viable and cost-effective option. These include:

  • Lower premiums: Long-term care insurance premiums are typically substantially lower for younger, healthier applicants compared to older individuals. As age increases, premiums can escalate rapidly, making coverage less affordable or even unattainable for some.
  • Easier approval: During the underwriting process, insurance companies conduct a thorough evaluation of an applicant's current health and medical history. Younger applicants are more likely to meet the health requirements for preferred pricing or to qualify for coverage altogether, as the risk of pre-existing conditions or age-related health issues is lower.
  • Longer coverage period: Purchasing a policy at a younger age allows for a more extended period of potential coverage, providing greater peace of mind and financial protection as one ages and the likelihood of needing long-term care services increases.

The potential costs of waiting to buy long-term care insurance

It's never too late to explore long-term care insurance options. However, as you grow older, the available choices may become more limited, and the associated costs can increase substantially. 

For example, a 55-year-old man who purchases a policy with $165,000 level benefits at age 55 would pay, on average, about $950 per year for coverage. A woman of the same age would pay, on average, about $1,500 per year for the same level of benefits. However, if they waited 10 years to purchase a policy, buying instead at age 65, the man would pay about $1,700 annually for the same policy while the woman would pay an average of $2,700 per year for the policy with $165,000 level benefits. 

And, given their older ages, there's no guarantee that either would qualify for coverage at that age. After all, the likelihood of having health issues at age 65 is higher than at age 55, so waiting to purchase coverage could prove to be more expensive in a variety of ways.

The bottom line

Preparing for the potential need for long-term care services is an essential component of comprehensive retirement and estate planning. And, by understanding the age limitations and making informed decisions about long-term care insurance at the appropriate life stage, you can help safeguard your financial well-being and ensure access to quality care should the need arise in the future.

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