Nationwide Financial Services, Inc., Columbus, Ohio, has updated RetirAbility CheckSM to account for the rising cost of health care, and help consumers better prepare for retirement.

Before the recent economic crisis hit Americans, the National Retirement Risk Index released by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College (CRR) last February estimated that nearly 61% of working Americans may not be financially prepared to retire at age 65. The rising cost of health care was one factor to blame.

The 17-point increase in the National Retirement Risk Index (NRRI) from the previous Index number of 44% – released in January 2007 – demonstrated how the surging cost of health care was significantly affecting retirement savings. But, as the nation’s economy continues to struggle, many Americans are beginning to cut back on their long-term financial plans due to rising costs of everyday necessities.

The RetirAbility Check, an informative, interactive online experience, aligns with the new NRRI data, which only Nationwide has exclusive access to because of its support of the retirement research being done by the CRR. Since its founding in 1998, the CRR is considered by many as an authoritative source of information and perspective on all major aspects of the retirement discussion.

“This latest update to RetirAbility Check is important because the rising cost of health care affects every retiree at some point in their lives,” said Brad Davis, vice president of marketing, Individual Investments Group at Nationwide Financial. “Our free online site gives consumers an even more accurate picture of the impact of these rising costs, and enables them to consider this information as they prepare for retirement.

“Many in America have to rethink how they are going to make it to retirement, not just what to plan for when they finally do retire,” Davis said. “The Index also shows that the risk will rise for younger workers and low-income households. The Index number could be considerably higher once long-term care costs are taken into account, and if households do not plan judiciously. There are more reasons today to educate ourselves, and consider working with a financial professional on a plan that’s right for every individual’s circumstances.”

What is RetirAbility Check?

RetirAbility Check (www.nationwide.com/rscore/nrri1208) is an online, interactive resource that provides consumers with a basic retirement readiness score – called an R-ScoreSM – to illustrate how financially prepared they are for retirement. For example, if a person’s R-Score is 56, he or she is on track to have 56% of what they need financially in retirement. A score of 100 is the goal.

First introduced in late 2006, RetirAbility Check uses NRRI data to determine the R-Score. In addition to updating the online site to account for rising costs of health care, additional changes were made, including updates to the user interface and the creation of an express mode to expedite the process for returning users.

“Nationwide translates the Index findings and implications into a consumer-friendly format that goes beyond the numbers to keep consumers engaged. RetirAbility Check takes the national index of retirement readiness to a personal level,” Davis said.

How RetirAbility Check works

To start, consumers input basic information such as birth year, earnings and any current retirement plan balances. During the process, an on-screen peer – similar in age and gender – guides the user and provides information, tips and facts along the way.

Once complete, the information provided is analyzed using assumptions and patterns of behavior identified by Boston College — including cost of living and medical expenses in retirement — and gives users their R-Score.

After getting their R-Score, users can learn about ways to improve their score, as well as access additional educational resources, tips and calculators geared to help them better prepare for retirement. The site also provides information about how an investment professional could help with retirement planning.

To get your own R-Score, visit www.nationwide.com/rscore/nrri1208.