Years ago the Long Term Care (LTC) insurance industry went through an education process which some say is continuing today. The industry learned that blood pressure and cholesterol led to death, not disablement, and thus insurers are not too concerned about those conditions. Cancer was not seen as a concern since once you needed assistance with day to day activities, your lifespan was likely short and you may not require substantial long term care.
Over time it was learned that diabetes leads not only to loss of limbs and blindness, but also to Alzheimer’s Disease. It has also been learned that if one family member has Alzheimer’s Disease, other family members are at significantly higher risk. Life expectancy continues to increase and the longer one lives, the more likely some care will be necessary.
Years ago many people could purchase LTC insurance in their 70’s. Today, few of us can qualify health-wise to purchase a policy at that age. A troubling knee, arthritis, a poor showing on a bone density test, blood sugar readings too high, the use of blood thinners like Warfarin, all can preclude us from purchasing such coverage today.
Many pundits still suggest it is silly to purchase LTC insurance before 65, but if you wait until that age many of us will find we are no longer eligible to purchase coverage. 40% of the people requiring LTC today are between 18 and 64 years of age. The Health and Human Services Department of our federal government claims that 70% of us will need LTC. www.LongTermCare.gov
Blood thinners like Warfarin are taken to prevent blood clots which lead to strokes. If you are at risk, you may not be able to purchase LTC insurance. Arthritis medications such as steroids almost always preclude obtaining coverage. Severely underweight or overweight applicants are also declined.
Basically, if you wish to purchase LTC insurance, you need to do so before health conditions that might someday lead to care are diagnosed. It is very much like car insurance, you must buy it before the accident, not after. If you decide to wait until you are 60 or 65 and find you are still in excellent health (using a walker or having diabetes is NOT excellent health) then you are lucky and can still purchase coverage. However, you may be well advised to consider it while in your 40’s or early 50’s, before chronic conditions become known.
I am often asked at what age should someone consider LTC insurance. It is not so much your age, but your financial situation that determines when is appropriate. If you are healthy, and have savings and income that you want to keep for retirement, then it might be time to investigate. If you decide the cost is more than you can afford right now, then purchase it later, at least you have an ide what you are dealing with. More information is available at www.TheLongTermCareGuy.com