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Health, Meet Wealth

People of every age seem to have suddenly found the fountain of youth. Folks are saying that 50 is the new 40, 60 is the new 50, and so on. For those of us who have taken care of ourselves and plan for a long, healthy retirement, that looks like the good news that it is.

But here’s the tricky part: the stellar checkup at the doctor’s office can mean sticker shock later. There’s well-documented but troubling evidence of a health/wealth connection. People with larger nest eggs are better able to pay for life-extending medical care and so they typically survive longer. And because means-tested Medicare benefits are less available to them, they may end up digging deeper than expected.

This means that while annual expenses may be higher for average retirees in poor health, lifetime expenses are even higher for healthy retirees because they generally live longer.

Well, this has certainly been sobering. But the best narrative that we can write for ourselves includes a chapter- several, really- where we control what we can control. We can take note of our set, unavoidable expenses in retirement. And we can accept that our healthcare costs are a known unknown.

Armed with that, we can engage in battle against the risks associated with longevity, counter uncertainty by securing guaranteed income to tackle predictable expenses, and we can do our best to rescue our own future selves. That’s the happy ending.

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Fast Facts:

For the typical, healthy 65-year-old couple retiring this year, total lifetime health care costs (excluding long-term care) are projected to be $387,644.

Source: HealthView Services 2019 Report

Almost two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries- or nearly 37 million people- don’t have dental coverage.

Source: March 2019 Kaiser Family Foundation Report


“I don’t think it’s unusual (that I’m still working). But everyone else does.”

– 100-year-old practicing optometrist Daniel Nast

Opinions on retirement finances can run the gamut.

Read what personal finance columnist Michelle Singletary considers to be four questionable pieces of retirement advice.

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