Don Kramer – FLORIDA TODAY
Q: When Should I Buy Long-Term Care Insurance?
A: Knowing when to invest in long-term care insurance is an important decision that can influence the security (and peace of mind) of retirees and their families. Long-term care (LTC) insurance provides financial support for services like nursing home care, assisted living facilities, and in-home care –items likely to become necessary as our bodies age and we need more assistance with activities for daily living.
So when is the right time to buy LTC insurance? The answer requires balancing three important factors: age, affordability and health.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 70% of Americans will need some form of long-term care in their lifetimes. Generally, people who buy LTC insurance in their 50s and early 60s qualify for better rates and have a greater chance of acceptance, compared to those who apply later. After approval and purchase, rates are locked in based on your age, making it cheaper to invest earlier.
I won’t sugar coat it: long-term care insurance premiums can be expensive. But weigh those costs against the prospect of paying for long-term care out of your savings. One strategy is to obtain a policy with a “future purchase option” or “inflation protection.” These features allow policyholders to purchase additional coverage at specified future intervals, without the need for medical underwriting. This can be a big help for those who can’t afford a policy in their 50s or early 60s, but still want to plan for some protection.
Your health status and family history may also figure into your timeline for the purchase of LTC insurance. If debilitating health issues run in the family, purchasing LTC insurance earlier might be your best bet. Look for policies with a range of care options and choice of providers, since your preferences (and requirements) could change over time.
“Nurse Lisa” Conway oversees care management at Senior Partner Care Services in Viera. Like many care professionals, she is an advocate for long-term care insurance. “By the time a senior comes to us in need of assisted living or in-home care, it’s too late for them to buy long-term care insurance,” says Conway. “It’s such a relief when they have a policy, because I know we’ll be able to help them get the care they need.”
Planning ahead for long-term care needs can help ensure a comfortable and secure retirement for you –and your family. For information and resources related to your successful aging journey, visit OneSeniorPlace.com or call 321-751-6771.
One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to askOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.
Lisa Conway is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services, Viera.