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4 Tips For a Healthy, Happy Retirement


Health is both a key factor to a happy retirement and a top retirement concern.  Nearly all (98%) of retirees say that good health is “extremely” or “very” important to a satisfying retirement, according to a survey of middle-income retirees released Tuesday by Bankers Life and Casualty Company’s Center for a Secure Retirement.  At the same time, 80% of retirees say that paying for health care in retirement is a top retirement concern, and 74% say that becoming ill is.

So how can retirees improve their health and minimize costs — and thus maximize their happiness in retirement?  Encore asked Chris Campbell, the vice president of strategic marketing and business development for the company, to share some tips:

See your doctor regularly: Sure, we all know that we should eat less fat and cholesterol, stop smoking and exercise more, but what else can we do to remain healthy? “You need preventative care,” says Campbell. “A lot of people don’t realize that Medicare offers several free, preventative services, including the annual wellness exam — it’s important that you go each year.”  Even if you’re not yet eligible for Medicare, it’s still important to go to the doctor annually for a checkup, he adds.

Get up to speed on Medicare benefits and costs: Fewer than one in ten middle-income Americans say they have an “extremely good” understanding of Medicare’s benefits and costs, and just about one in three say they have a “very good” understanding, the study showed.  “Many people just take the ‘learn as you go’ approach,” says Campbell.  But this can be costly, especially if people pick the wrong Medicare plan, experts say.  Click here for the four best sites for Medicare information.

Learn what Medicare doesn’t cover: Many people assume that Medicare covers things that it does not, says Campbell.  For example, Medicare typically doesn’t cover dental, vision and hearing care — nor does it tend to cover long-term care like an extended stay in a nursing home.  For a more complete list of what Medicare does and doesn’t cover, click on the Medicare and You handbook here.

Plan with an adviser: A typical married couple age 65 will face an average of $260,000 in uninsured health care and nursing home costs, the study shows.  Furthermore, there is a 5% risk that costs will exceed $570,000.  There’s no doubt that you’ll need cash to get the best care, so it’s important to “plan accordingly,” Campbell says.  Work with your financial adviser to sock away the cash you’ll need for health care in retirement.


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    • And another thing: The skin in the game ntoion of medical payment is an utter delusion or a simple lie disguised as reasonableness. I go for number 2, BTW. It is not possible to price shop medical procedures unless they are discretionary things like plastic surgery. Wait till your child is projectile vomiting has his eyes crossed from intra-cranial pressure. You are not going to comparison shop surgeons or facilities. You are going to go with the doctor you know, the surgeon you have had past success with, and be glad you have insurance. Most people never know that moment and never have that expense. That is why insurance works: total costs are spread out over large populations, and catastrophic events become ripples in the cash pool. When you remove the likely frequent users into a pool of their own, of course it will have higher expenses. That is the group insurance companies want to dump on the government so that they can skim the cream off the generally lower-frequency users. The real skin in the game is the way the insurance companies and their hired legislators and lobbyists want to skin us all when we become high-cost users. When you go to the doctor, a recommended set of blood tests is handled by the doctor’s usual lab that picks up daily. How are you supposed to shop around for an accurate or more affordable lab to do exactly the tests checked off on the form? How can you know? Who wants low-bid surgery? Come on out back, young fella. I just sharpened the scythe last week. Fix ya right up here! Going overseas for major surgery was quite fashionable a couple of years ago. I have not heard much about it since then, though. And good luck on recovery if something goes wrong in Cheapsliceistan.The funniest part, though, is the diversion of SS funds into private accounts. Was Cogan institutionalized during the episodes of the last couple of years? Can he seriously think what he suggests is anything short of lunacy? Put the money where there is even less oversight. At least we got some interstate highways and other infrastructure out of our taxes. I’d hate to buy another Goldman employee a house in the Hamptons. The gated communities I’d suggest for Cogan and his ilk are located in upstate New York, too. Around Ossining.

    • Where do you get these writers. They seem to do the amount of research a third grader does on an art history report.
      Can you spell REALISTIC?

About Encore

  • Encore examines the changing nature of retirement, from new rules and guidelines for financial security to the shifting identities and priorities of today’s retirees. The blog also explores news that affects retirement, from the Wall Street Journal Digital Network and around the web. Lead bloggers are reporter Catey Hill and senior editor Jeremy Olshan. Other contributors include The Wall Street Journal’s retirement columnists Glenn Ruffenach and Anne Tergesen; the Director for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Alicia Munnell; and the Director of Research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, Michael Kitces, CFP.