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Health Insurance a Key Component in Financial Planning
Date:4/24/2008

Retirees' health care bills average $225,000

CHICAGO, April 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Many people think they understand how health care expenses will impact them but often grossly underestimate their future health care costs. Many also believe they will be able to rely on coverage from Medicare and their employers during their golden years. However, this may not be the case, as the number of businesses offering retiree health benefits is steadily declining and the financial pressure on Medicare seems to be increasing.

That's why Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) is participating in the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago's Money Smart Week April 20-26, an educational effort that teaches people ways to manage money wisely.

"By simply asking questions and being aware of your insurance options, you can have an impact on your financial health and better prepare for retirement and other life changes," said BCBSIL President Paul Boulis. "No doubt, people are aware of increasing health care costs and know their need for services will increase as they age, but many people don't plan ahead."

Recent statistics show that almost half of American workers report total savings and investments (not including their primary residences or any defined benefit plans) of less than $25,000, even though it's estimated that retirees will need approximately $225,000 to pay for health care alone. Consumers need to learn to more accurately estimate their medical expenses in retirement and to understand how to pay for them to protect their assets.

So how can people plan ahead for health care costs in a way that is both realistic and effective?

People can start by learning about the savings and insurance alternatives available. Options include:

-- Health Spending Accounts (HSAs): Many people use HSAs to pay short-term

health care expenses rather than as a savings vehicle. But HSAs also fit

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SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois
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