Planning for Health Costs in your Retirement

Tuesday, January 13, 2015
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Choosing Coverage, For you and your family

Planning for Health Costs in your Retirement

As we get older, we start to think seriously about our retirement. How much we’re going to need for things like food, shelter, maybe places we might want to travel… But what about our health care?

Health needs become more complex and expensive as we age…generally continuing for the rest of our lives. And we’re living longer... the average Canadian lives well into their 80’s so retirement can span many years.

Over three quarters of Canadian seniors report having at least one or more chronic health conditions. Managing these conditions over time could require prescription drugs, home or community support services, or maybe even long-term care.

Coverage through our employer may have helped minimize the cost of prescription drugs, dental and other health care, but as costs continue to rise, more and more companies are discontinuing health coverage for former employees as they retire. And governments are implementing policies to limit health care spending—even discontinue coverage for various medical treatments.

So how can we plan and be prepared for the cost of health care in retirement? There’s no easy solution. It’s all about Healthy Living and Educating yourself so you’re better prepared.

Consider your lifestyle – small changes can have a big impact on your health as you get older. Getting older is not an option, but the onset of many chronic health conditions can be prevented or at least slowed by some basic changes like finding ways to be more active... it can be as easy as a taking a short walk each day. Mind what you’re eating to help you maintain a healthy weight preventing things like high-blood pressure, diabetes and heart conditions. Regular visits to your doctor can help with early detection and treatment of age-related conditions.

As you educate yourself for retirement planning, the most important thing you can do is establish a foundation for your health care. For example, if you have coverage through your workplace, ask if health benefits are carried into your retirement. If not, you’ll want to research your options for individual coverage. For this, you’ll want to know is and isn’t covered by your provincial health plan to help you understand the kind of coverage you’ll need. Most insurers offer conversion from your group coverage to an individual plan. These options provide the greatest level of coverage for existing conditions, so you don’t need to worry about prescription medications that you're already taking. But to take advantage you must purchase these plans within 60 days of leaving your group plan.

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