Americans Fear Poor Health Could Derail Retirement Savings

More than three quarters view ill health as the largest barrier to a secure retirement.

Pre-retiree Americans fear that poor health could derail their retirement savings, particularly as they age and face higher health care costs. This is according to HSBC’s report, “The Future of Retirement: Healthy New Beginnings.” 

More than three quarters, 76%, of Americans view poor health as potentially the largest barrier to savings, followed by illness in a partner, cited by 61%. The survey queried 18,000 pre-retirees and retirees in 17 countries, and found that 67% of pre-retirees are unsure what health care will cost them in retirement. For women, this rises to 73%, and for men, it declines to 60%.

Other findings show 42% of pre-retirees consider themselves to have good health for their age, 61% eat a healthy diet, 59% have regular medical check-ups, and 33% take preventative medications. However, among retirees, 71% believe they have good health for their age, 84% are eating a healthy diet, 66% have regular medical check-ups, and 66% take preventative medications.

Nearly two-thirds, 63%, of pre-retirees say they are prevented from living a healthy lifestyle due to being too busy (30%) and lacking leisure time (24%). Twenty-two percent of working age women say that living a healthy lifestyle is not affordable, while 12% of working age men believe this is so.

Before retiring, people need to adopt a healthy lifestyle and develop a financial plan to avoid stress, says Michael Schweitzer, global head of sales and distribution at HSBC.

HSBC suggests five actions people can take to improve their retirement and health care outlook: start saving for retirement as early as possible, take steps now to minimize health risks, plan for longevity and consider how your health care needs may change in retirement.

Recent research from Empower Institute urges people to use health care cost prediction tools to estimate what they will need in retirement. Another survey, from Nationwide Retirement Institute, finds that pre-retirees among all financial statuses have fears about health care costs in retirement but are not having the conversations needed to plan for them.