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Planning for the rising costs of health care

Written by by Scott D. Brown. Posted in January

Longer lifespans and rising healthcare costs are driving investors to control their financial exposure to uncovered bouts of care—particularly in retirement.

The United States spends more than $3 trillion a year on health care, or nearly $10,000 per person. Overall spending rose 5.8% in 2015,1 faster than the pace of inflation or wage growth.

 

Systemic efforts to rein in costs have met with some success. Consolidated hospital networks are better positioned to deliver treatment at scale and pass savings onto patients and insurers, and an increasing focus on preventative care aims to address medical issues before they snowball into chronic and costly conditions.

Still, another trend in the changing healthcare system—patients shouldering a larger share of treatment costs—is driving up out-of-pocket expenses. The elderly, who require the most care, often bear the brunt of the costs. It is important to take steps to minimize your financial exposure to uncovered medical costs. But whereas your incentives for saving for retirement are easy to digest—to be able to afford a desired lifestyle after your working years—planning for the less palatable aspects of old age can be more challenging.

Planning for the future

It is estimated that 70% of people turning age 65 can expect to use some form of long-term care during their lives.2 One year in a private room in a nursing home costs $105,645 today and is projected to reach $245,649 in 20 years.3 Even with a robust portfolio, you may have trouble handling such large costs.

Many adults nearing retirement age are concerned about healthcare costs but unsure how to budget for them. A 2016 survey by the Nationwide Retirement Institute found that four out of five people cannot estimate how much they will have to pay for health care in retirement, even though nearly three-fourths say out-of-control healthcare costs are one of their top retirement fears.4

Those fears are warranted. Kevin McGarry, director of the Nationwide Retirement Institute, says the average retired couple now spends about $15,000 a year on health care, of which more than half goes to Medicare premiums, and they will spend somewhere between $259,000 and $395,0005 over the course of their retirement, depending on their lifespan and health conditions.6

Should they encounter serious medical trouble, the costs will be even higher. Many Americans aren’t even aware of the uninsured costs they may face in these cases. A stroke, for example, may prevent a person from moving the right side of his or her body. That means expensive 24-hour assistance.

Medicare Part A covers skilled nursing care provided in a skilled nursing facility for a limited time, but only after a qualified hospitalization. However, Medicare will not pay for nursing homes when custodial care is the only care needed or care for conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Patients suffering from Alzheimer’s or other cognitive ailments may live for many years, all the while requiring assistance and, as the disease worsens, expensive hands-on care.

Protection for retirement savings

By the time people reach their 30s, they tend to have a pretty good idea of the lifestyle they want to pursue, including in retirement, says Nationwide’s McGarry. There are a number of ways to save for retirement with your future healthcare needs in mind.

Investors in their 30s or early 40s, he says, may weight their retirement-funding strategies toward a portfolio of mutual funds or a managed-account solution to provide upside exposure to the market. Given lower premiums for younger policyholders, long-term-care (LTC) insurance should also be a consideration, he said.

These days, only a handful of insurers offer LTC insurance, so another option may be life insurance with an LTC rider, which allows families to tap into the benefits they would receive upon the policyholder’s death while he or she is alive and requires care.

Another option for funding long-term-care expenses is to withdraw or borrow money from life insurance policies, or withdraw funds from or annuitize annuities. Note that either of these options would probably fall short of covering costs if someone needs care for many years.

McGarry says younger investors seeking less risk may want to couple mutual fund portfolios with some annuity exposure. Investors within 10 years of retirement may lean their portfolios toward variable annuities that offer market upside potential until retirement, and then guaranteed income.

Paying for unexpected costs

A final consideration is what to do when you’re faced with a large unexpected medical bill today. One answer may be a securities-based loan, which may be available to qualified Morgan Stanley clients. When faced with a large healthcare expense, investors often liquidate financial assets to cover liabilities. However, this strategy may have unintended costs, such as tax consequences, potential loss of future growth, or an imbalance in your portfolio’s asset allocation.

Once approved, a securities-based loan may allow you to gain quick access to funds for a variety of needs while providing the opportunity to leave your portfolio intact and the strategy unchanged. Your Morgan Stanley financial advisor can provide you with additional information about the options available to you to help optimize your balance sheet and potentially cover large unexpected healthcare expenses.

Protect your assets and your health

As healthcare costs continue to rise, it’s important to understand all of the options you have to protect the assets you’ve spent a lifetime accumulating. Your Morgan Stanley financial advisor has access to multiple long-term-care products from a wide variety of respected insurers and can help you choose the one that offers the optimal combination of cost and benefits. Start the conversation today.

Borrowing against securities may not be suitable for everyone. You should be aware that there are risks associated with a securities-based loan, including possible margin calls on short notice, and that market conditions can magnify any potential for loss. For details, please see the important disclosures below.❦

If you’d like to learn more, please contact Scott Brown, Branch Manager, Morgan Stanley Toledo, Ohio, at 419-842-5312.

Securities based loans are provided by Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, Morgan Stanley Private Bank, National Association or Morgan Stanley Bank, N.A, as applicable.

Important Risk Information for Securities Based Lending: You need to understand that: (1) Sufficient collateral must be maintained to support your loan(s) and to take future advances; (2) You may have to deposit additional cash or eligible securities on short notice; (3) Some or all of your securities may be sold without prior notice in order to maintain account equity at required maintenance levels. You will not be entitled to choose the securities that will be sold. These actions may interrupt your long-term investment strategy and may result in adverse tax consequences or in additional fees being assessed; (4) Morgan Stanley Bank, N.A., Morgan Stanley Private Bank, National Association or Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC (collectively referred to as “Morgan Stanley”) reserves the right not to fund any advance request due to insufficient collateral or for any other reason except for any portion of a securities based loan that is identified as a committed facility; (5) Morgan Stanley reserves the right to increase your collateral maintenance requirements at any time without notice; and (6) Morgan Stanley reserves the right to call securities based loans at any time and for any reason.

With the exception of a margin loan, the proceeds from securities based loan products may not be used to purchase, trade or carry margin stock (or securities, with respect to Express CreditLine); repay margin debt that was used to purchase, trade or carry margin stock (or securities, with respect to Express CreditLine); and cannot be deposited into a Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC or other brokerage account.

To be eligible for a securities based loan, a client must have a brokerage account at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC that contains eligible securities, which shall serve as collateral for the securities based loan.

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Insurance products are offered in conjunction with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC’s licensed insurance agency affiliates.

Since long-term care insurance is medically underwritten, you should not cancel your current policy until your new policy is in force. A change to your current policy may incur charges, fees and costs. A new policy may require a medical exam. Actual premiums may vary from any initial quotation.

Variable annuities are offered in conjunction with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC’s licensed insurance agency affiliates.

A variable annuity is a long-term investment designed for retirement purposes and may be subject to market fluctuations, investment risk and possible loss of principal.

All guarantees, including optional benefits, are based on the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company and do not apply to the underlying investment options.

Variable annuities are sold by prospectus only. The prospectus contains the investment objectives, risks, fees, charges and expenses, and other information regarding the variable annuity contract and the underlying investments, which should be considered carefully before investing. Prospectuses for both the variable annuity contract and the underlying investments are available from your Financial Advisor. Please read the prospectus carefully before investing.

Article by Morgan Stanley and provided courtesy of Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor.

By providing this third party publication, we are not implying an affiliation, sponsorship, endorsement, approval, investigation, verification or monitoring by Morgan Stanley of any information contained in the publication.

Scott D. Brown may only transact business, follow-up with individualized responses, or render personalized investment advice for compensation, in states where he is registered or excluded or exempted from registration, https://fa.morganstanley.com/theauroragroup/index.htm http://brokercheck.finra.org/Search/Search.aspx].

This material does not provide individually tailored investment advice. It has been prepared without regard to the individual financial circumstances and objectives of persons who receive it. The strategies and/or investments discussed in this material may not be suitable for all investors. Morgan Stanley Wealth Management recommends that investors independently evaluate particular investments and strategies, and encourages investors to seek the advice of a Financial Advisor. The appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives.

Morgan Stanley offers a wide array of brokerage and advisory services to its clients, each of which may create a different type of relationship with different obligations to you. Please consult with your Financial Advisor to understand these differences.

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC is a registered Broker/Dealer, Member SIPC, and not a bank. Where appropriate, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC has entered into arrangements with banks and other third parties to assist in offering certain banking related products and services.

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2 Source: Who Needs Care? U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: https://longtermcare.acl.gov/the-basics/who-needs-care.html

3 2 3 Cost projection is for 2037. Source: John Hancock 2016 Cost of Care Calculator http://jhinsurancewebsitedev.azurewebsites.net/long-term-care/cost-of-long-term-care-calculator/index.aspx. Assumed rate of inflation is hypothetical, based on a 4.1% average annual increase in the Consumer Price Index for All-Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for the 50-year period ending 12/31/15. CPI-related data obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S Department of Labor at www.bls.gov, October 2016

5 “Amount of Savings Needed for Health Expenses for People Eligible for Medicare: Unlike the Last Few Years, the News Is Not Good,” by Paul Fronstin, Dallas Salisbury, and Jack VanDerhei, EBRI. January 2017.

6 6 Savings needed for Medigap premiums, Medicare Part B premiums, Medicare Part D premiums and out-of-pocket drug expenses for retirement at age 65 in 2015, assuming a 90% chance of having enough savings: “Amount of Savings Needed for Health Expenses for People Eligible for Medicare: Unlike the Last Few Years, the News Is Not Good,” by Paul Fronstin, Dallas Salisbury, and Jack VanDerhei, EBRI. October 2015.

University of Toledo Medical Center