What Is the Oldest Age You Can Buy Long-Term Care Insurance?

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Older people may have difficulty purchasing long-term care insurance
Older people may have difficulty purchasing long-term care insurance (Image: Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

You can purchase long-term care up to age 84. However, If you wait until your 80s, you will have difficulty qualifying for coverage. Although polices are sold to older people, many older applicants are declined for coverage by insurance companies. If you are approved, it is likely the policy will be expensive and have limited benefits.

Definition

Long-term care insurance policies are designed to meet your needs if you are unable to perform the activities of daily living. The activities of daily living include tasks such as eating, bathing, dressing and toileting. These policies cover the cost of paying someone to assist you or pay nursing home expenses. You qualify for benefits when you have lost the ability to perform two or more tasks. Although you may require this type of assistance at any age, these conditions are more common among the elderly.

Purchasing

You can obtain quotes for long-term care policies from insurance companies. There are a variety of options for benefit types and amounts. You will need to choose what to include in your policy. A policy with lots of options will be more expensive. Underwriting procedures differ from one company to another. Generally employer-sponsored policies require little or no underwriting. However, individual policies typically require you to complete a health questionnaire, undergo a health screening and have your doctor certify you are in good health.

Approval

If the underwriting process determines you have a pre-existing health condition, you will pay a higher premium, have limited benefits or be declined. You will not be approved if you are already receiving long-term care services. Therefore if you cannot perform the activities of daily living, your application will probably be declined. This makes it difficult for many older people to qualify for long-term care insurance. For example, according to a 2010 study by the American Association For Long Term Care Insurance, 66 percent of long-term care insurance applicants 80 and over are declined.

Waiting

The premium for a long-term care policy is based on your age at the time of purchase. When you are approved, your premium does not increase as you age and your policy cannot be canceled if you pay premiums. Additionally, most companies offer a discount for good health and charge a higher premium for pre-existing health conditions. Although you can purchase a long-term care policy in your 80s, it may not be practical to wait. Your chances for approval will be greatly reduced.

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