Long-term care is for anyone of any age who needs help taking care of themselves over an extended period of time due to disability, severe mental illness, disease, injuries, or medical events such as strokes or brain tumors. Many Americans turning age 65 will need long-term care, or long-term care services and supports (LTSS), at some point in their lives. This means assistance with the basic personal tasks of everyday life, sometimes called Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), such as bathing, dressing, toileting, and eating. You may not need long-term care now, but there are good reasons to consider planning ahead for long-term care.

Your health insurance plan may not cover long-term care.

Under certain conditions, Medicare covers care in a long-term care hospital (LTCH), skilled nursing care provided in a skilled nursing facility (SNF), eligible home health services, and hospice care. However, Medicare does not cover long-term care, also called custodial care. To help cover potential long-term care costs, you may choose to buy a separate long-term care insurance plan. Policies offer different coverage options that can help you pay for the long-term care you need.

You can avoid higher premiums by getting long-term care insurance earlier.

Buying long-term care insurance while still in good health will have lower premiums as costs increase with older ages and health conditions. Premiums for long-term care insurance are cheaper when you’re buying in your mid 50s to your early 60s. According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, rate increases for long-term care insurance are generally two to four percent in your 50s and begin to increase six to eight percent per year in your 60s.

You can be prepared for potential costs and care needs.

If you can’t afford long-term care insurance, then you can plan on other ways to cover long-term care costs if needed in the future. You may wish to have a conversation with your family about their ability to act as a caregiver if long-term care is needed and find out the options available to you. A good start to understanding costs is to talk to a health insurance expert who can lay out pricing and options and may help you decide on a strategy that works best for your budget and needs.