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Study Reveals Benefits of Starting Long-term Care Planning Pre-retirement

Posted Sep 11 2008 2:20am

Editor’s Note: When should you be looking into LTCI is a question many Americans are facing. The following press release is reprinted courtesy of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, an LTCI trade organization that recently examined the question of when is the right time for consumers to start to buying long-term care insurance policies. All information in this posting is courtesy of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.

Ability to Qualify for Long-Term Care Insurance & Available ‘Good Health’ Discounts Decreases Significantly After 60


Los Angeles, CA - June 25, 2008 -  A study of over 250,000 individuals who purchased long-term care insurance last year (2007) reveals the significant benefit of starting the planning process in your 50s, prior to reaching retirement age.

Research conducted by the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI), the national professional trade organization, examined data from 10 leading insurers to determine the percentage of long-term care insurance applicants who qualified for preferred health discounts as well as the percentage who did not qualify for insurance as a result of an existing health condition.

“Individuals mistakenly think long-term care planning is something that can wait until after retirement, but because of health changes that tend to occur in our 50s and early 60s, the facts show otherwise,” explains Jesse Slome, the Association's executive director. "Between one-fifth (20%) and one-third (33%) of individuals who submitted an application for long-term care insurance between ages 60 and 69 were declined coverage because of an existing health condition according to the biennial study."  The industry average for declined applicants between ages 60–69 was 22.9 percent.  For ages 50–59, it was 13.9 percent.

While insurers can decline individuals who apply for coverage with existing health conditions, most reward those who apply while in relatively good health.  "Just over half (51.5%) of individuals who applied and were accepted for coverage last year between ages 50 and 59 qualified for "preferred health" discounts," Slome acknowledges.  These discounts can reduce the cost of long-term care insurance by 10 to 20 percent each year.  “The savings can amount to hundreds of dollars a year for a couple,” Slome notes, "and they won't be taken away in the future should your health change."

Some eight million Americans currently have long-term care insurance protection on an individual basis or through their employer, according to the Association's 2008 Sourcebook data.  "Some 400,000 people obtained coverage in 2007," Slome states, "and 83 percent of individuals purchased before age 65.  But, clearly, many people still wait too long to start the planning process only to discover they can't get coverage no matter how much they are willing to pay."

More Applicants Qualify For Good Health Discounts


The number of individual applicants who qualified for good health discounts in 2007 rose slightly for most age-bands compared to the Association's 2005 study.  "Just over two-thirds (66.8%) of applicants between 40 and 49 qualified for the discount in 2007, compared to 53.7 percent in 2005.

"Planning for long-term care is similar to retirement planning," Slome explains.  "There are significant advantages and reasons to start early.  Your health when you apply is probably the most important." 

It is important to understand that each insurer establishes it's own criteria for acceptable health conditions.  Likewise discounts and insurance rates can vary quite significantly based on your age, your marital status and health.  "It pays to speak with a knowledgeable long-term care insurance professional who can offer coverage from more than one insurer," Slome advises.  "The difference in cost can be as much as 30 percent or more annually and since it rarely is advantageous to change policies, it pays to get the best coverage for the best price from the onset."

For smokers or those individuals whose health is less than perfect, begin the planning process with a long-term care specialist who understands which specific health conditions various insurers will accept.   "They'll want to know what medicines you have been prescribed, even if you don't take them, and any current conditions before recommending you submit an application to a specific insurer," Slome notes.  "No one wants to hear they are declined, especially because once you are declined by one insurer, you may find it harder or possibly impossible to get coverage from another."

Percentage of Applicants Who Qualify for Good Health Discount


Age of Applicant

Average 2007 1

Average 2005 2

Under 30

63.2%

66.5%

30 to 39

66.3%

61.0%

40 to 49

66.8%

53.7%

50 to 59

51.5%

44.2%

60 to 69

42.2%

31.9%

70 to 79

24.2%

18.8%

80 and Over

12.9%

11.2%

Source:  1 American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. June 2008 Study of 250,000 individual policy applicants (2007 & 2008 data).
2 American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (www.AALTCI.org),. Feb. 2006 study of 100,000 individual policy applicants (2005 data).


Percentage of Applicants Declined Coverage (Individual Policies)


Age of Applicant

Average 2007 1

Average 2005 2

Under 50

7.3%

7.2%

50 to 59

13.9%

10.7%

60 to 69

22.9%

22.9%

70 to 79

44.8%

42.9%

80 and Over*

69.8%

57.2%


Source:    1  American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. June 2008 Study of 250,000 individual policy applicants (2007 & 2008 data).
2 American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. February 2006 study of 100,000 individual policy applicants (2005 data).
*   Several insurers no long accept applicants age 80 or older.

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