More than half of all workers say they intend to work longer than they planned because their health insurance is covered through their employer, according to a new survey. But the question now is, will they continue to work longer if they can find affordable coverage through the government?
"With those expanded alternatives, employers that currently provide retiree health benefits may well find themselves considering an exit strategy," said Paul Fronstin, director of the Employment Benefit Research Institute's Health Research and Education program. "That, in turn, may affect the willingness of many older workers to stay on the job." A growing proportion of older Americans would retire earlier if they were assured of health coverage. In 2012, 27 percent of workers reported they would retire earlier than planned if they were guaranteed access to health insurance, up from 13 percent in 2003, according to EBRI's 2012 Health Confidence Survey.
Health care expenses are a key component of spending in retirement. The older a worker, the bigger the health care bite out of their budget. In 2009, health care accounted for 15 percent of expenses for people ages 75?84, and 12 percent of expenses for people ages 65?74, according to EBRI.
A 65-year-old couple, both with median drug expenses, would need an estimated $163,000 set aside in 2012 to have a 50 percent chance of having enough money to cover health care expenses in retirement, and $283,000 to have a 90 percent chance of doing so. The survey was published in the January 2013 EBRI Notes, "Views on Health Coverage and Retirement: Findings from the 2012 Health Confidence Survey."
--By Cyril Tuohy
March 1, 2013
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