Health care inflation is a well-documented reality in the American economic landscape, but new data published this spring illustrates how pronounced this challenge is for American seniors.
In June, LifeHealthPro reported that the average American couple over the age of 65 can expect to pay $218,000 for medical treatment required over a 20-year span in retirement. This data, which emerged from research conducted by American University’s Business Analytics program, is made more sobering by their additional finding that 38 percent of Americans over 65 rely completely on Social Security for their retirement income.
This research comes on the heels of the May 2016 release of HealthView Services’ 2016 Retirement Health Care Costs Data Report, which provides detailed projections of health care expenses in retirement. Perhaps the most shocking component of the report is the Retirement Health Care Cost Index, which shows the portion of benefits required to cover projected lifetime medical expenses.
According to the index, a 66-year-old couple retiring this year will need 57 percent of their Social Security income to cover total health care costs. And a 55 year-old couple retiring in 10 years will require 88 percent.
These reports underscore the serious financial challenges that rising health care costs impose on seniors. “Health care costs are rising and need to be meaningfully addressed in the financial planning process,” concludes the HealthView Services report.
As the trusted financial advisor to your clients, you are an important voice in their lives and can guide them to solutions to this growing problem. One proven approach is to help them evaluate the entire spectrum of their available assets in order to find creative ways of generating income to help pay these rising health care bills.
For example, a common asset that is often overlooked is a client’s life insurance policy. A life insurance policy is a financial investment and — just like stocks, bonds or real estate — it should be reviewed from time to time to evaluate whether it is still serving a useful purpose in the client’s portfolio. If the policy is no longer needed or if the premiums have become unaffordable for the client’s tight budget, it may make sense to explore the sale of the policy through a life settlement.
Unfortunately, most American seniors lapse their life insurance policies without knowing that alternatives are available to them. In fact, 90 percent of seniors who lapse policies without knowing about a life settlement indicated they would have considered that option had they known about it and 79 percent feel their advisors should have informed them of the option.
Rising health care costs are an ominous threat on the horizon for American seniors, but you have a unique opportunity to help them identify available assets that can be leveraged in a way that maximizes retirement income and reduces financial anxiety.