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Life care planning addresses health care costs in retirement

What is my life expectancy? People may ask that question frequently, pondering the length of time they will have to enjoy the fruits of life. The answer, as many Houston residents know, depends on a number of factors. Some, like genetics and family history of diseases, are unalterable or can be modified only slightly through particular medications and treatments. But others, like diet, exercise and choosing whether to smoke, are within our control. At the margins, we control how long we will be around.

Importantly, we also control how we will live during the latter years of our lives. Using the answers to a few simple questions, actuaries can estimate a person's lifespan. It is up the person, however, to ensure that he or she has the requisite funds to last through retirement and pay for the nearly inevitable health care bills associated with old age. These considerations highlight the need for careful life care planning as people go through their working years and approach retirement.

One of the important lessons garnered from some of the actuarial surveys is that a person's listed life expectancy does not exclude the possibility that the person could be ill with some disease, great or small, at some point in his or her life. A life care plan should examine how a person will pay for medical bills, including those stemming from long-term care.

Fortunately, there are solutions that can help people get their funds to last throughout their lives. These can include seeking out government benefits where appropriate to supplement other sources of money.

Source: CBS Money Watch, "How long will you live?" Steve Vernon, June 26, 2012.

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