No one plans to get sick later in life, but many people find they need some care assistance as they grow older. Long-term care is an important consideration in planning for retirement, and the costs that come with these services can be high. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to start planning now for these future expenses.
Insurance can play an important role in this effort, but as you approach retirement, it's not always clear when to buy long-term care insurance. In many cases, the right time may be sooner than you think. Investing in this type of policy before you need it can help cover the costs associated with care later in life, and it can also provide you with financial and emotional peace of mind in the meantime.
Will You Need Long-Term Care Insurance?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that nearly 70% of all Americans will need some form of long-term care assistance after the age of 65. Most of those people will need assistance for a relatively short time, typically up to two years.
Long-term care insurance can provide financial support during this time. Depending on which plan you choose, care insurance can cover some of the costs of home health care, adult day care, nursing home care and more for people over the age of 65 and individuals with disabilities or chronic conditions.
Considerations for Buying Long-Term Care Insurance
It's important to grasp the following considerations when trying to decide when to buy long-term care insurance. If you buy too early, you might end up paying premiums for some time before you need it — if you need it at all. On the other hand, if you wait to buy a long-term care policy, you could face higher premiums or a decreased chance of being approved based on your health.
Everyone's financial and health care needs are different, but in general, it's best to start thinking about long-term care earlier than later. When you develop your financial plans for retirement, long-term care insurance should be counted as a critical item on your list. Here are a few important factors to keep in mind as you do so.
Many people start thinking about long-term care insurance once they get to their 50s. This age range can provide the right mix of affordable premiums and optimal health, increasing your likelihood of being approved.
The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI) recommends getting long-term care insurance between the ages of 52 and 64. Ideally, you'll want to start looking while you're on the younger side of that age range to take advantage of the best premiums and benefits.
Everyone's health and lifestyle are different. If you've been diagnosed with a long-term or chronic condition, it's better to look into obtaining a long-term care policy sooner rather than later.
Even if you consider yourself healthy now, you'll still need to account for the future, as health circumstances can change over time. Most long-term care claims occur when people are in their 70s and 80s, according to the AALTCI, but you might be diagnosed with a condition in your 60s that could make it more challenging to qualify for a long-term care insurance policy.
As with most insurance policies, the younger you are when you get long-term care insurance, the less expensive your premium tends to be. There are a variety of factors that go into determining the cost of a long-term care policy, including your age, sex, marital status and length of coverage. For instance, males and people who are married typically have lower premium options, while females' premiums may be higher because they live longer on average.
Regardless of the type of insurance policy you're considering, take the time to make the best choice for your needs. There are many factors that come with thinking about your long-term care insurance needs. The more information and security you can obtain now, the better prepared you'll be for your retirement.