How am I going to be able to afford the high cost of health care?

ROBERT GOLDBERG ::: 

The “golden years” are supposed to be a time to retire and relax after a life of working hard for yourself and your family, but according to a recent story on NPR, Baby Boomers have some big financial concerns about the future, many of which involve how they will pay for health care in their golden years.

“The struggling economy, a longer life expectancy, ever-increasing health care costs and challenges facing Social Security are putting added pressure on the boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964.”

An Associated Press LifeGoesStrong.org poll questioned almost 1,500 adults, over 1,000 of whom were Baby Boomers, and found that while ALL Boomers had some concerns about financial comfort and survival as they aged, the younger Boomers in particular (those born in the ‘60s) had the strongest—and the most all-encompassing—concerns.

This discrepancy in fear makes sense when you consider that “Many older boomers still have a defined benefit pension plan, probably some decent retiree medical insurance and Social Security,” whereas “the youngest boomers… face more uncertainty about their pensions, their Social Security, their housing and their medical care.”

The NPR article does not offer any easy fixes or instant comforts to these financial concerns—indeed there are no easy fixes—but it does offer a few suggestions to help Boomers ease their minds about those things that worry them the most:

* Push retirement back as long as you can to put off drawing on your savings until absolutely necessary.

* Start investing in long term care insurance, and do so as early as possible. “Costs for long-term care insurance can range from $1,000 to $8,000 a year, depending on age, health conditions, policy term and other factors.” As you get older the cost goes up—sometimes very steeply.

* Don’t neglect your estate planning. According to the poll, “Forty-percent of the boomers polled said they had a legal will to spell out how their possessions should be distributed after death,” and even fewer had health care directives, proxies, or living wills. A health care directive “allows people to document their wishes concerning medical treatment, and the proxy is a medical power of attorney that allows for the appointment of a trusted person to make medical decisions in case an individual is unable to do so.”

Now is the time to address any concerns you might have about your own (or a loved one’s) golden years. Don’t wait until it is too late.

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