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Survey: Nine in Ten Retirees Confident They Can Cover Future Health Care Costs

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A new survey reveals that nine in 10 retirees with at least $250,000 in household assets are not concerned about paying for future health care costs beyond what Medicare covers.

Nationwide Financial, Columbus, Ohio, published this finding in a summary of results from a survey of 625 adults ages 55-plus having $250,000 or more in household assets who plan to retire by 2020 and 625 retired adults ages 65-plus having $250,000 or more in household assets. The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive, New York.

The survey reveals that 93% of Americans in retirement are at least somewhat confident they can pay for their future health care costs. This contrasts with the nearly half (46%) of boomers nearing retirement with the same amount of assets who say they are “terrified” of what health care costs will do to their retirement plans.

“The good news is we’re not seeing the panic that many boomers nearing retirement are having, but we hope this isn’t over-confidence that could lead to a lack of preparedness down the road,” says John Carter, president of Nationwide Financial Distributors, Inc., a subsidiary of Nationwide Financial. “For many of the retirees we surveyed, most of their health care costs have yet to come.”

One reason retirees are confident in their ability to pay for health care costs, the survey suggests, may be that they’ve already been doing it successfully. Also, many current retirees have pensions and employer-paid health care, a luxury many boomers nearing retirement do not.

According to the survey, 40% of those in retirement say their biggest expense in retirement is paying monthly housing bills, 21% cite the cost of health care and 16% say providing for their family.

Those nearing retirement say they expect health care to be their biggest expense (45%), followed by monthly housing bills (35%) and providing for their family (9%).

Retirees, on average, estimate they currently spend $4,083 annually on health care for things like premiums, copayments and deductibles. One in five (21%) estimate they spend less than $1,499 each year and 22% said they don’t know.

Retiree health care costs have increased an average of 6% a year since 2002. Upshot: a 65-year-old couple retiring today would need $240,000 to cover medical expenses during their retirement years (which could take up to 35% of the couple’s annual Social Security benefit). This number doesn’t include long-term care costs.

About two in five retirees (39%) say they need to understand Medicare coverage better. But only about one in six retirees say they plan to meet with a financial advisor to discuss health care costs beyond those covered by Medicare.

However, of those that have, about 70% say their advisor was helpful, to very helpful, in estimating their future health care costs.


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