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Hispanic-Americans Fear Post-Retirement Health Costs

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NU Online News Service, May 5, 2003, 5:49 p.m. EDT – Hispanic-American workers are more confident now that they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement years than they were in 2001, but they are less confident about their ability to pay for medical care and long-term care, according to the 2003 Minority Retirement Confidence Survey.

Although 51% of Hispanic-American workers are currently very confident or somewhat confident that they will have enough to retire comfortably, up from 45% in 2001, only 26% believe they will have enough to pay for long-term care, down from 35% in 2001.

The percentage who believe they will be able to handle medical expenses during retirement has fallen to 41%, from 48%.

Those figures emerge from a comparison of results from the 2003 Minority Retirement Confidence Survey with results from the 2001 Minority Retirement Confidence Survey.

The surveys were organized by the American Savings Education Council, Washington, a division of the Employee Benefit Research Institute, and Mathew Greenwald & Associates, Washington, a polling firm.

The researchers who conducted the 2003 survey interviewed 782 U.S. workers over age 25 and 218 U.S. retirees over the telephone in January and February.

The researchers found that, for the most part, the participants gave answers this year that were similar to the 2001 answers.

This year, for example, only 50% of the Hispanic-American participants said they had started saving for retirement and only 59% of African-American participants said they had done so. Seventy-one percent of all workers said they had started saving for retirement.

Back in 2001, 69% of all workers, 54% of African-American workers and 50% of Hispanic-American workers said they had started saving.

The survey results suggest that African-American and Hispanic-American participants save less partly because they tend to have lower incomes than the average worker, partly because employers are less likely to offer them retirement savings programs, and partly because they are less familiar with or have less faith in retirement savings programs, the researchers note.

The researchers also found that workers as a whole are about as confident this year about their ability to save for retirement and medical expenses as they were in 2001.

The percentage of all workers who think they can handle long-term care expenses inched down to 48% in 2003, from 49% in 2001, while the percentage who said they can handle medical expenses in retirement held steady at 58%.

The percentage of African-American workers who think they can handle long-term care expenses fell to 31%, from 38% in 2001, but 53% think they can handle medical expenses, down only slightly from 55%.

Other key survey findings:

  • Most minority survey participants have not done a retirement needs calculation. Thirty-four percent of African-Americans and 24% of Hispanic-Americans report they or their spouse have tried to calculate how much they need to save for a comfortable retirement.
  • Language may play a role in whether or not a Hispanic-American is likely to do a retirement needs calculation. One-third of respondents who chose to be interviewed in English reported attempting to do this calculation versus 12% of those who chose to be interviewed in Spanish.
  • The survey shows that some workers who did a retirement calculation made changes in their retirement planning, such as starting to save more or changing the allocation of their money. Twenty-six percent of the African-American workers said they had changed their retirement planning as a result of needs analysis and 39% of the Hispanic-Americans said they had changed their retirement planning.


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