Burgeoning health care costs tax retirees

Burgeoning health care costs tax retirees

 recent study from Fidelity Investments reveals that a couple, both aged 65 and retiring this year, can now expect to spend an estimated $245,000 on health care throughout retirement, up from $220,000 last year.

recent study from Fidelity Investments reveals that a couple, both aged 65 and retiring this year, can now expect to spend an estimated $245,000 on health care throughout retirement, up from $220,000 last year.

by Dr. Tad Sztykowski — 

Despite recent legislative attempts to lessen the burden of health care in America, costs continue to increase every year. The good news is that the price of health care for both the current and future generations of retirees can be reduced through the use of preventative medicine.

The bad news is that the cost burden of the American health care system is disproportionately carried by retirees. In fact, a recent study from Fidelity Investments reveals that a couple, both aged 65 and retiring this year, can now expect to spend an estimated $245,000 on health care throughout retirement, up from $220,000 last year.

The figure has increased 29 percent since 2005 when it was $190,000 that the same couple would need to spend during their retirement years to cover health care. Alarmingly, these numbers reflect only health care coverage and do not take into consideration the costs of nursing homes or long-term care.

Among the most commonly cited reasons for the increase in total health care costs for retirees is the fact that advances in medicine are allowing people to live longer than ever before. Now more than ever, the U.S. relies on expensive prescription medicines and costly medical procedures to treat individuals with illnesses, which are directly linked to the growing costs for all Americans. Even with the recent passage of health care reform legislation, including the Affordable Care Act, Americans continue to struggle under the weight of the health care system, with costs expected to continue to rise 4 to 5 percent annually.

Although Americans over 65 make up only 13 percent of the population, they account for 36 percent of all health care expenditures. This payment gap is expected to widen as younger generations of unhealthy people with chronic illnesses age in the coming years. By 2050, it has been projected that one out of five Americans will be over the age of 65.

Today’s health care costs are growing at an unsustainable rate. Further, many of these costs can be avoided by utilizing preventative medicine to tackle the root causes of disease before they even have a chance to develop into serious illnesses that require expensive treatments. By taking preventative measures and choosing healthy lifestyles, we can avoid much of the costs of health care.

Additionally, approaching health and wellness for the entire body by combining proven Eastern preventative techniques, such as acupuncture, with Western medical diagnostic tools to address the underlying causes of disease has proven effective in more than 21,000 patients. America has become obsessed with high-cost prescription medicines that mask symptoms and provide temporary relief. Rather than relying solely on treatments that only help in the short-term, preventative measures promote long-term lifestyle changes and treatments which deal with the root causes of disease.

An ounce of prevention can prove more valuable than a pound of pills. The best way to reduce health care costs is by improving the overall health and wellness of Americans by giving them knowledge that empowers them to take ownership and responsibility for their physical well-being. If health can be improved on a generational scale through the use of preventative medicine, which encourages healthy lifestyle choices, the cost of health care for retirees will be reduced.

 

Tad Sztykowski, M.D., Ph.D., is medical director of the Centers for Integrative Medicine and Healing (CIMH) in Providence, R.I. Established in 1990, CIMH is an advanced integrative medicine clinic that combines Oriental medicine modalities with current Western diagnostics, boasting a 97 percent success rate. cimh.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 34, Number 6, December 2015/January 2016.

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