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Healthier Retirees Will Spend More on Health Care: IRI

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Historically financial services has not included health care in financial planning, and it is one of the largest expenses people will face — especially healthy retirees, according to recent research.

The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) released a report that finds healthy retirees pay more in health care costs than their less healthy counterparts.

The healthiest people will have a higher probability of running out of assets and spending their Social Security on health care costs, according to a report from HealthView Services, a business that makes projections on future health care expenses primarily for the financial services industry.

The HealthView researchers found a retirement income approach using either single premium immediate annuities or a deferred income annuity in combination with systematic withdrawals will provide a healthy individual with a larger portfolio balance at life expectancy age, according to a statement.

So why should advisors worry about saving for health care during retirement? Because it’s the number one expense that people face when they retire, according to Ron Mastrogiovanni, the CEO and founder of HealthView Services. “If we’re going to help people plan for retirement, ignoring health care is a very serious mistake,” he tells ThinkAdvisor.

This was a sentiment shared by a panel of experts at the 2014 IRI Vision conference in Williamsburg, Virginia. Steve Saltzman, principal of Saltzman Associates, said in the panel discussion that health care costs are one of the biggest concerns for baby boomers. “It’s a significant cost in financial planning and there is a significant trend from the demographic perspective,” said Saltzman.

For the next 19 years, 10,000 people per day will turn 65, and this growing age group will change the costs spent on health care in America.

The “average” couple retiring next year will spend $366,599 on health care during retirement, according to Saltzman. However, these numbers don’t include long-term care.

Despite these steep costs, many firms don’t focus their efforts on the needs of retirees. “Even those in excellent health will need to finance health expenditures, and with longer life spans, these costs will add up quite significantly,” Cathy Weatherford, IRI president and CEO, said in a statement. “Fortunately, building a retirement income plan with guaranteed lifetime income increases the probability that healthy retirees will be able to manage health care costs and maintain their standards of living throughout their retirement years.” A healthy 65-year-old man can expect to live to age 87 on average, while his counterpart in poor health can expect to live to only age 81. A healthy 65-year-old woman can expect to live to age 89 on average, while her counterpart in poor health can expect to live to only age 84. However, the overall costs for those few extra years can burn a hole into the retirement savings for many.

A few companies such as Merrill Lynch have started adding products to help consumers and advisors manage retirement savings. Many people are now starting to see the importance of saving for retirement, especially this cohort of baby boomers.

The bottom line is that advisors should encourage setting up health care plans for retirement. People should “stop planning their trips around the world and make sure they can pay for their doctors’ visits when they’re older,” Mastrogiovanni said. “Even if they don’t use all of the funds, they can always leave the leftover money for their children.”

Check out Tackling the Retirement Income Challenge With Innovation on ThinkAdvisor.