When Should You Apply For Long-Term CareWhen Should You Apply For Long-Term Care Insurance? Insurance?

If you’ve started your retirement planning, you’ve probably heard of long-term care insurance, but you may not be sure when you should buy a policy. According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI), an industry group, “for most people, the best age to apply is in your mid-50s.” There are two main reasons why applying for long-term care insurance before age 60 makes the most sense for many people: lower premiums and a higher likelihood of qualifying for coverage.

Apply when you’re young enough to get lower premiums

The younger you are when you apply, the lower your premiums will be, especially if you’re buying a policy with a high coverage amount and/or inflation protection to hedge against rising care costs. That’s because you’re paying in for a longer time before you may need to use your coverage. Kiplinger points out that waiting just five years to buy long-term coverage can result in annual premiums that cost a few thousand dollars more, in part because you have a shorter window for paying in before you may start needing care.

The effect of age on premiums is especially important for women who want long-term care coverage. Because women, on average, live longer than men and account for the vast majority of long-term care claims, insurers have started charging single and widowed women higher premiums to make up for the disparity. The bottom line if you’re a woman who wants long-term care coverage is to apply for a policy sooner rather than later.

Apply when you’re healthy enough to get coverage

Another reason to apply when you’re in your fifties rather than when you’re older is because you’re less likely to have some of the chronic conditions that become more common as we age. Long-term care insurers, unlike healthcare insurers, can charge you higher premiums based on your health history and current health status. On the other hand, if you’re in good health when you apply, your insurer may offer you a discount on your premiums.

Just as long-term care insurers can set rates based on health status, they can also deny you coverage altogether if you have certain pre-existing conditions. These include but aren’t limited to:

  • dementia (including Alzheimer’s and memory loss)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • kidney failure
  • post-polio syndrome

Also, if you already get help with activities of daily living or have a mobility impairment, you won’t qualify for a long-term care insurance policy.

Even if you have every reason to expect to be healthy well into your sixties and seventies, it’s worth keeping some numbers in mind. According to an AALTCI study, fewer than 15% of applicants between the ages of 50 and 59 are denied coverage. Nearly a quarter of applicants age 60 to 69 are turned down, and by the time applicants reach age 70, the denial rate is closer to 45%. The message in the numbers is clear—the younger you are when you apply, the better your chances of getting the long term care coverage you want.

A good long-term care policy can make it easier for you and your family to afford in-home care, assisted living, and nursing home care if you ever need them. Contact SeniorAdvisor.com at (866) 592-8119 to explore your long-term care options now and get peace of mind about your future.

Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelance writer whose childhood was made awesome by her grandmothers, great-grandmother, great-aunts and -uncles, and their friends.

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