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Inflation and health care top retirees' concerns

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Fuel to the fire for advisors looking to make a case for products including universal life is a new survey which suggests that more folks worry they will run out of money in retirement, mostly due to concerns about inflation and the rising cost of health care.

A survey by the Society of Actuaries found that people already retired were most worried about inflation and affording long-term care. Pre-retirees, meanwhile, ranked affordable health care as their top concern, followed by inflation and long-term care coverage. Overall, pre-retirees showed greater worries than those already in retirement, the study found.

Anna M. Rappaport, a consulting actuary based in Chicago and supervisor of the report, said that one theory for the difference in the levels of concern could be that “for the pre-retiree, retirement is still an unknown.”

Rappaport said she was surprised that people weren’t more worried.

“Now they’re not as concerned as we think they should be,” Rappaport said. Rappaport added that Americans appear to be underestimating the financial impact of the death of a spouse. About 60 percent of those responding to the survey felt there would be little impact when a spouse dies, but Rappaport said that surviving spouses often experience significant drops in income and benefit coverage, especially women.

She said that Americans need to be more aware that longevity is a significant risk. She pointed out that among today’s 65-year-old population, the average man is likely to live an additional 17 years and the average woman, 20 years.

The study found both a lack of understanding about investing — which can help people grow their savings above the rate of inflation — as well as inadequate savings levels. It also found that people “do not estimate their retirement needs well.”

Still, Rappaport said, many Americans are considering a step that could help — working longer.In the latest study, some 15 percent of those still working said they expected to work in their primary occupation until at least age 66, and 28 percent said they may never retire.

– With reporting from the Associated Press