Retirees Caught Off-Guard by Health Care Expenses

July 11, 2012 ( – Middle-income retirees surveyed list health care expenses as one of their biggest financial surprises in retirement.

When asked what costs more in retirement than they thought it would, more than half (55%) of respondents indicated that health care is costing them more than anticipated, according to a survey conducted by Bankers Life and Casualty Company Center for a Secure Retirement (CSR). If given the opportunity to go back in time, retirees say they would make saving for their healthcare costs a much bigger priority.   

Many retirees say their health itself had become a challenge. While some felt their health had improved since leaving the workforce, nearly one in five (18%) said they had dealt with unexpected health issues.   

Other expenses that were higher than expected among retirees include: groceries – 41%; car/transportation – 38%; prescription drugs – 33%; and utilities – 22%.   

The survey also found retirees had many goals beyond the stereotypical ideas of retiring to Florida, seeing their grandchildren and traveling the world. When asked what goal they hope to accomplish in the next three years, more than one in three (36%) have a personal goal that focuses on their health and wellness. While some people wanted to travel, many retirees wanted to be in better health (21%) or lose weight and be more physically fit (15%).   

“Many times when people think about retirement planning, they only think about money,” said Chris Campbell, vice president of marketing and business development at Bankers Life and Casualty Company, a national life and health insurer. “While that is important, don’t over look your health. Living a healthy lifestyle keeps healthcare costs down and the ability to fully enjoy your retirement years.”   

The CSR surveyed 300 retirees between ages 55 and 75 with annual household incomes between $25,000 and $75,000.