Last year purchasers of long term care coverage skewed older and opted for cheaper policies, according to a new study by the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. In 2008, 69 percent of long term care buyers were 55 or older; in 2009 that figure had grown to 73.5 percent.

Explained Jesse Slome, AALTCI’s executive director, “Clearly the economy is having an impact on when individuals start their long-term care planning and what benefit levels and policy options they select.” The study also showed slight increases in the number of buyers choosing lower benefit levels and longer elimination periods, both of which lower premium costs.

Slome noted that three years remains the most popular benefit period, with 29.5 percent selecting policies that offer coverage for at least three years. Forty-seven percent added a 5 percent growth option to increase benefits each year. “Buyers understand they are protecting future risk and saved in some areas but were willing to pay more for this important option,” said Slome.

The AALTCI included two new study factors in 2009′s study: average premium amount and buyer’s marital status. The study showed the average buyer was between the ages of 45 and 54 and paid an annual premium of $1,900. The majority were married, with 54 percent of purchases involving couples covering both lives.