Like many people, you’ve worked hard over the years to build your wealth for a more secure future. But have you taken time to consider your health in retirement and the financial implications?
Health care expenses are people’s top financial concern in retirement however, less than one out of six pre-retirees (15%) has ever attempted to estimate how much money they might need for health care and long-term care in retirement.  Beyond limiting what you can do, health conditions can be very costly. Preventive care can help on both counts, and the good news is it's more affordable than ever.
Medicare expanded its roster of free preventive services in 2010, eliminating co-payments and deductibles for many of them. Taking advantage of preventive services that are available at no charge under traditional Medicare and most Medicare Advantage plans can help you have a healthy and fulfilling retirement.
In your first year of enrollment, you're entitled to a free "Welcome to Medicare" exam from your doctor, and you can get annual wellness visits in subsequent years. Use the initial exam to talk with your physician about your health, lifestyle, social support system and family medical history, and work with the doctor to develop a plan for the health screenings, immunizations and counseling you may need. The 2010 Affordable Care Act now covers many of those services.
It’s important to incorporate regular exercise into your lifestyle. Numerous studies confirm the health benefits associated with it and many Medicare Advantage plans now cover fitness and yoga classes as a supplemental benefit — so long as your doctor prescribes them. Check with your plan about its rules.
Medicare also now covers dozens of free screenings your physician can use to detect potential health problems. There are a number of tests available which you may want to speak with your doctor about such as screenings pertaining to blood pressure, high cholesterol, breast cancer and diabetes.
Proper financial planning is also imperative. Not only can chronic health conditions such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease ruin plans for an active and rewarding retirement, such conditions can cut deeply into your retirement funds.
Properly prepare for the healthcare costs you expect and those that are less predictable such as a need for long-term care. Incorporate healthcare costs into your retirement plan by addressing the following questions with a financial professional:
1. How can I incorporate future health care costs into my retirement strategy?
2. Do I need long-term-care insurance even if I’m taking care of my health?
3. How can I make sure that I won’t be burden to my children as I age?
As with any type of planning, the sooner you begin to prepare, the more options you’ll have and the greater likelihood that your retirement lifestyle lasts a lifetime.
Article written by Cynthia L. Hutchins, Director of Financial Gerontology at Bank of America Merrill Lynch
For more information, Anita Srivastava is a Wealth Advisor at Merrill Lynch in Glen Rock, NJ. The information contained in this article is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investments. Any information presented is general in nature and not intended to provide individually tailored investment advice. The strategies and/or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors as the appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor's individual circumstances and objectives.
 Health and Retirement – a Merrill Lynch retirement study in partnership with Age Wave, May 2014.
The investments or strategies presented do not take into account the investment objectives or financial needs of particular investors. It is important that you consider this information in the context of your personal risk tolerance and investment goals.
This material should be regarded as general information on healthcare considerations and is not intended to provide specific healthcare advice. If you have questions regarding your particular situation, please contact your legal or tax advisor.
Long-term care insurance coverage contains benefits, exclusions, limitations, eligibility requirements and specific terms and conditions under which the insurance coverage may be continued in force or discontinued. Not all insurance policies and types of coverage may be available in your state.
Always consult with your independent attorney, tax advisor, investment manager, and insurance agent for final recommendations and before changing or implementing any financial, tax, or estate planning strategy.
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