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Pre-Retirees May Overlook Healthcare Costs When Relocating

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RISMEDIA, Nov. 28, 2007-When it comes to moving after retirement, Americans may be missing significant new costs, according to new national research from Longevity Alliance. The new opinion poll, conducted by Harris Interactive(r), found that U.S. adults aged 40+ who plan on relocating after they retire may overlook how their healthcare costs could change from one location to the next.

Specifically, about three in four (76%) adults planning to relocate after retirement said that they consider the cost of healthcare as important or very important in their decision.

In the survey, “cost of healthcare” ranked number three of five, behind “overall cost of living” (92%) and “climate” (81%), but just ahead of “ease of transportation” (69%) and “proximity to friends and family” (49%).

Costs Vary Greatly by Region

Overlooking the cost of healthcare and health insurance can have real consequences for retirees. Costs can vary widely from one area of the country to another. Insurance premiums, Medicare health plans, Medicaid, and long-term care rates can change exponentially. For instance, an average annual premium for a Medicare Supplement insurance policy in New York could be $3,700. If the same policy holder moved to Phoenix, the premium for the same Medicare Supplement plan could be as low as $1,200.

“Too many times, people considering retirement and relocation don’t give any thought to how it could affect their healthcare and insurance costs,” said Longevity Alliance President Steve Zaleznick. “As retirees grow older, those costs grow larger, so choosing a region that makes those costs affordable is a key component of a sound retirement strategy. And they need to remember if they move again later, they may find healthcare costs increasing if they move back to their home state.”

Five Tips for Before You Move

1. Call your current insurer once you’ve identified the area to which you’d like to move. Ask about how the move would impact your current health insurance plan: Is it available? Is there a cost difference? Are there other plans available that are not available in your current location that might better fit your needs? This is especially important for Medicare beneficiaries who may find a very different selection of Medicare Supplement plans, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans available.

2. Contact a broker who represents a variety of insurance companies and plans and can identify the available options for you. A different insurance company may have a similar or better plan for about the same or even a better price. Get health insurance quotes from at least two different companies to see how rates and benefits compare.

3. Ask about Medicare Advantage in your new location if you are Medicare eligible. It is usually a lower cost option than a Medicare Supplement Plan and may be the right option for you.

4. Investigate health care costs you will be paying for yourself so that you’ll be able to budget well for things insurance doesn’t cover. Find out about physician fees, hospital costs, routine exam prices, the cost of any maintenance drugs you take, and the cost of dental care to name a few.

5. Plan for long-term care by finding out about the average cost in your new location. If you have long-term care insurance, check to see if your daily benefit is adequate. If not, check into the cost of supplementing your policy with an additional policy. If you have not yet bought long-term care insurance, get quotes from at least three different companies to compare benefits and cost. And use a company that specializes in long-term care insurance.

The Retirement and Relocation study was conducted online within the United States on behalf of Longevity Alliance between September 17 and September 19, 2007 among 1,509 adults ages 40+, of whom, 381 are likely to relocate when they retire. Results were weighted as needed for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

For more information, visit www.longevityalliance.com.

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