Advisers Fail to Discuss Health Care With Women

Women’s need to address their health care risks and costs presents an opportunity for advisers, since few advisers address these critical questions, Nationwide Financial said.

While 65% of women have discussed their retirement with a financial adviser, of those who have, only 10% of women compared to 25% of men have discussed how much money they will need to cover health care costs apart from Medicare, according to a survey Harris Interactive conducted on behalf of Nationwide among 1,250 Americans with at least $250,000 in household assets.

Among the  women who have discussed health care with their adviser, the feedback is overwhelmingly positive, with 77% saying their adviser was either helpful or very helpful on this issue. By comparison, only 63% of men described their adviser as helpful or very helpful on health care. When discussing the role that Medicare will play in their retirement, the figures were even higher, with 83% of women describing their adviser as helpful or very helpful on this point, compared with 52% of men.

Fifty-six percent of women said it is very or extremely important to educate themselves on Medicare when planning for retirement, and 43% said they planned to discuss the topic with their adviser.

“The good news is women want to have these discussions, and financial advisers can play a major role in helping women plan for and live in retirement by discussing the role Medicare will play in their retirement and helping them estimate health care costs in retirement,” said John Carter, president of sales and distribution for Nationwide Financial.

The problems at the heart of women’s greater health care burden, when compared to men, is the fact that women work an average of 12 years less and live five years longer than men, Nationwide said.

The survey found women close to retirement estimated they will need $4,624 each year to cover premiums, co-payments and deductibles, a full 21% less than the $5,882 that men said they would need.

“However, both are way off,” Nationwide said, citing Fidelity Consulting Services’s 2012 study that showed a 65-year-old couple retiring today would need $240,000 to cover medical expenses, not including long-termcare . (See “Health Care Costs Could Consume Retiree’s Income,” PLANADVISER 5/9/12.)