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Really? "Major concerns" about boomer retirement

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Yet another startling stat on impending boomer retirement implosion, but one worth noting nonetheless. When health care costs are included, the percentage of households ‘at risk’ for retirement reaches 61 percent. So finds the always indispensable Alicia Munnell and her team at Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research. For boomer clients with a “yeah, yeah, I know” attitude, it’s worth a run-through of Munnell’s numbers, which serve as the functional equivalent of a swift kick in the pants.

Granted, when health care costs are removed, the ‘at risk’ number falls to 44 percent. But why even bother; honestly, how realistic is it to exclude health care costs in retirement? The brief makes a strong case for long term care insurance, even though it’s something Munnell downplays, noting that “the chance of needing nursing home care is only one-third, but the cost of such care is very high.” Sure, but long term care includes much more than time spent in nursing homes, and the likelihood of some sort of LTCI occurrence is among the insurance industry’s highest.

“The situation varies based on a household’s wealth level,” she writes. “For those in the bottom third of the wealth distribution, the most reasonable strategy is to rely on Medicaid. Those in the top third may be able to self-insure, but more likely they will need to either purchase long-term care insurance or rely on tapping their housing equity to pay for long-term care. Those in the middle third might benefit from long-term care insurance, but may find the price tag too steep, suggesting that they will plan to fall back on Medicaid if their assets are exhausted.”