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Discrepancy in actual, anticipated health-care expenses

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People should be prepared to spend approximately 30 percent of their income on health care expenses in retirement, 10 percent more than most people polled in a new survey anticipate spending.

Aviva USA discloses this finding in a second annual survey published in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic. The report focuses on the tie between health, finances and retirement issues. Ipsos, a global market research company, conducted the survey of nearly 1,500 nonretired U.S. adults on their health habits and financial preparedness.

The report reveals that nine in 10 people expect to spend less than 20 percent of their monthly retirement income on medical and dental expenses. And seven out of 10 expect to spend just 10 percent or less.

In reality, people should be prepared to spend approximately 30 percent of their income on health care expenses in retirement, according to The Urban Institute.

“These are staggering discrepancies between people’s perception and current reality,” says Dr. Philip Hagen, medical director of Mayo Clinic EmbodyHealth and vice chair of the Division of Preventive and Occupational Medicine at Mayo Clinic. “This survey revealed that most Americans are unrealistic about some of the repercussions of lifestyle choices and aging — specifically, that as you get older, your health is apt to decline and your need for health care increases.

That need for additional care also means there will be additional costs. Getting regular preventive care and improving lifestyle habits to decrease health risks can help reduce these expenses and improve health and quality of life.”

Many people seem ill-prepared for the expense. Only four of 10 people surveyed said they are, or will be, financially prepared for retirement.

Among the report’s other findings:

  • One in six survey respondents said they go to the doctor less frequently than once every two years;
  • Only one in eight Americans say they are currently unhealthy, including just one in 60 who say they are very unhealthy. However, more than 35 percent of American adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
  • Almost half of survey respondents (46 percent) say their weight has increased somewhat or a great deal compared to 10 years ago. Just 16 percent said their weight has decreased;
  • Despite the trends of minimal exercise and increased weight, 23 percent of Americans expect their health to be improved in retirement.