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Life Health > Health Insurance

Health Care: The Elephant in Boomers' Living Rooms

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Savings aren’t the only thing that can compound over time. Financial advisors need to remind boomers that the cost of health care can compound, too, suggested Ron Mastrogiovanni, president of Healthview Services Inc. The Danvers, Massachussetts, company produces software that financial firms can use to forecast clients’ health care costs in retirement.

“Today’s advisors need to step back from money management and educate clients on the new realities of retirement,” said Mastrogiovanni, whose experience as a co-founder of FundQuest involved providing wealth management solutions to financial institutions. “Health care costs should be part of the equation.”

Medicare isn’t the financial panacea it may appear to be. As’s Insurance Editor Allison Bell wrote in mid-May, “Younger people and health care policymakers tend to talk as if Medicare is a magic wand that makes patients’ health care costs disappear. Insurance agents and financial advisors know that the opposite is true.”

Citing a new Commonwealth Fund study of Medicare enrollees’ actual expenses, Bell reported that out-of-pocket spending on acute care and long-term care averaged $3,024 per person last year. For a typical couple with household income of $65,000, out-of-pocket health care expenses added up to $6,972, or 11% of their income.

As Mastrogiovanni pointed out, this can come as a shock to retiring boomers who expected to have a better lifestyle than their parents. They weren’t anticipating health care costs that can include supplemental insurance to fill Medicare’s deductible and co-pay gaps, as well as prescription drugs, hearing care, vision care and dental care. The real budget-buster: long-term care in a facility. And they often didn’t know such basics as the permanently higher premiums that will result from missing their Medicare signup period.

“Health care needs to be part of a separate discussion, like estate planning,” he said. As extended longevity becomes more likely (half of babies born in 2007 may live to 104, according to a World Economic Forum report), much will depend on your clients’ personal and financial health.

— Read Thinking Boomer: Understanding This Generation and What They Need from You on ThinkAdvisor. 


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