Boomers rank declining health high

We’re living longer than ever, and the prospect of decades spent in old age is keeping some baby boomers up at night, prompting those

By Peter Boys

We’re living longer than ever, and the prospect of decades spent in old age is keeping some baby boomers up at night, prompting those approaching retirement to rank health concerns over finances.

According to a recent poll, 70 per cent of Canadians aged 50 to 59 considered declining health as the top concern for retirees. Retirement savings ranked a distant second.

And it seems more men than women are concerned about changes to their health in retirement.

If you’re a Canadian who turned 65 in 2012, you can expect at least 20 years of retirement, according to Statistics Canada. But those years don’t come cheap as one’s health fades and the prospect of long-term care creeps on to the horizon.

The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) estimates Baby Boomers will require at least $1.2 trillion in long-term care programs, half of which will come out of government coffers.

So who pays for the difference? It will come out of your pocket, yet Canadians continue to be ill-prepared for the mounting costs of aging in retirement.

A recent poll by CLHIA shows 67 per cent of Canadians over age 60 don’t have a financial plan to cover the costs of on-going longterm care.

So how can Canadians finance medical and care costs on a fixed income? It all starts with taking stock well in advance, according to RBC financial planning consultant Bernie Clermont.

“When you talk about things like healthcare, dental care, eye care and prescriptions, there’s a need for care not just at the end but toward the end,” Clermont said.

“About 50 percent of our clients say healthcare in retirement is an issue they’re worried about. Clients are thinking about this a lot earlier than they used to.”

Start with a little research

“Anybody who’s worried or thinking about funding healthcare costs in retirement should look at what they have now and what they’ll have in retirement and look at the gaps,” Clermont said. “A lot of people don’t know the difference between pre-retirement and post-retirement benefit plans. They may have a plan that pays 80 per cent, 60 per cent, 50 per cent, or what have you, of expenses for things such as dental and eye care to a maximum.

“Most plans are limited to a specific dollar amount. If you have a major health issue, that can go very quickly.”

Determine what government covers — and doesn’t cover

“A lot of people think that as soon as they turn 65, the government pays for all your drugs, but that’s not necessarily the case,” Clermont said. “Not all are covered. If you need a specific prescription (that’s not covered), you may have to go to a benefits plan.”

Look into various types of insurance. “Things like life insurance and critical-illness insurance are not necessarily cheap, but it’s important to look at this not when you’re 60 but when you’re 40 or 45 or younger,” Clermont said.

“When you’re older, some products become much more expensive or you may not even qualify.”

Do the math

Consider that the typical cost of a private retirement home is about $4,500 a month and that you may live in one for 10 years. Or determine approximately how much you’ll need to spend on things like eye and dental care as well as prescription medications per year in retirement.

“Build those expenses into a financial plan now,” Clermont said. “Run the figures backward. Maybe you’ll need to save $400 a month or $100 a month for 20 years.”

— Money Talk

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