Even the Affluent are Concerned with Retirement Health Care Costs

April 17, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A study by Northern Trust found that 90% of high net worth households are concerned that spiraling health care costs might affect their ability to enjoy retirement.

Additionally, 89% reported that personal and spousal health is a retirement-impacting issue, according to a news release. “Our research shows how critical the issue of healthcare costs is to everyone, regardless of income,” said Tom Hines, senior vice president and head of Northern’s Financial Consulting Group.

As far as retirement income, 74% of affluent pre-retirees plan to draw income from a 401(k) or other employer sponsored savings plan to fund their retirement, while nearly all (92%) senior executives expect to withdraw income from these plans. In addition, 72% of all respondents said stocks and/or bonds (outside of 401(k) plans) will provide their second source of retirement income, while 86% of senior executives also plan to draw income from these assets.

Seventy percent of survey respondents said they expect retirement funding to come from Social Security and Medicare, but 64% are concerned about the future of these programs.

Surprisingly, just as the non-affluent have reported, 48% of the affluent pre-retirees anticipate working full- or part-time during retirement. The survey found that 22% of those who are already retired are working either full- or part-time. “We’re beginning to appreciate that baby boomers aren’t traditional retirees; they plan to be active, whether that means working, volunteering or continuing to run a business,” Hines observed. “On the other hand, affluent individuals may continue to work to absorb steep and ever-climbing healthcare costs when they retire.”

The millionaires surveyed said their other important retirement goals are related to social activities, spending time with children or grandchildren, pursuit of personal interests and having an active social life. Sixty-three percent reported that spending more time with their families is very important, as is pursuing a personal interest or hobby (60%).

Northern Trust surveyed 1,014 households with $1 million or more in investable assets for its study “Wealth in America.”