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A Money Problem That Scares the Wealthy

By Lisa Zamosky

Medical Bills

No one, it seems, is immune from the ever-rising cost of health care and the anxiety that comes with it.

According to a recent survey from Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management, 79% of affluent Americans — defined as people with more than 0,000 of investible assets — say that rising health care costs sit at the top of their list of financial concerns.

One-third (34%) of those surveyed said they’re more worried about the potential impact a health situation could have on their finances than about chronic illness or disability altering their quality of life.

The national survey polled 1,000 American adults.

Immobilized by Anxiety?

The outcome of this survey would indicate that worry doesn’t necessarily act as a motivator. Despite the fact that so many people surveyed report concern about the high cost of health care as they age, surprisingly few have taken the time to determine what their health-related financial needs will actually be in retirement.

Of those surveyed, 67% haven’t estimated their potential health care costs during retirement; 78% of those under the age of 50 haven’t considered their needs (maybe their age makes the lack of thought not so surprising). And 62% over the age of 50 haven’t given any thought to possible health care costs as they age.

The survey also revealed that affluent women, more than men, are concerned about their money lasting as long as they do. Likely, that has to do with the fact that women live, on average, over five years longer than men. Women are also more concerned about the impact caring for an aging parent might have on their own financial security.

Long Live Retirement Funds

The bright spot in all of this anxiety about health care costs is longer life expectancy. The survey cites an assessment by the Society of Actuaries that a 65-year-old couple today has a 31% chance of at least one spouse living past the age of 95. What’s more, by the year 2050, over 600,000 people in the U.S. are expected to live to 100. That’s amazing when you consider that in 1950 only 2,300 people enjoyed such a long life.

The report found that people would manage their money differently if they knew today that living to 100 was in the cards for them. But of course, some things, we simply cannot know.

What’s Your Plan?

How great of a concern are health care finances for you and your family? Have you thought about and/or begun to plan for your health care financial needs during retirement? Share your thoughts and your plans in the comment section below.

Photo: Creatas

The opinions expressed in WebMD Second Opinion are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Second Opinion are... Expand


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