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Lifetime health care costs more if you are healthy
Old 05-21-2010, 08:40 AM   #1
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Lifetime health care costs more if you are healthy

Damned if you do, damned if you don't...

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While it's true that the annual health-care costs of healthy retirees are lower than those in poor health -- $6,500 versus $8,000 for those ages 65 to 69 -- the healthy face higher lifetime health-care costs, according to a report this week from Boston College's Center of Retirement Research.

Over a lifetime, healthy retirees may pay as much as $105,000 more than those in poor health...

"First, those in good health can expect to live significantly longer," the report said. "At age 80, people in healthy households have a remaining life expectancy that is 29% longer than people in unhealthy households, and, therefore, are at risk of incurring health care costs over more years."

Second, the report said that many of those currently free of any chronic disease will succumb to one or more such diseases. In running a simulation, Boston College found that individuals who are free of any chronic diseases at age 80 can expect to spend one-third of their remaining life suffering from one or more such diseases.

Third, the report said people in healthy households face a higher lifetime risk of requiring nursing-home care than those who are unhealthy. That reflects their greater risk of surviving to advanced old age, when the need for such care is highest.

Staying healthy may cost you in retirement
Note this study was financed by Prudential Financial, no doubt with the intent to sell LTC policies....
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Old 05-21-2010, 08:43 AM   #2
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So much for the claim that unhealthy lifestyles and obesity are a drain on public health costs...

Of course, it's not like the source is the most unbiased, either.
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Old 05-21-2010, 06:19 PM   #3
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End of life care is supposed to be a major expense. This means that EOL care for a 90+ year old is greater than EOL care for a 75 year old with diabetes and such. This just doesn't sound right.

I think they're just looking at LTC costs and comparing "healthy" vs "unhealthy" (their definition), concluding that healthy people using LTC spend more. Living longer is more expensive. Who woulda' thought?

We are missing an opportunity here. Conducting studies for companies that know the conclusion and just need the supporting data, and writing journalistic columns highlighting the conclusions about those same studies. It can't be that hard. I bet the regulars 'round here would do an excellent job in both categories...
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Old 05-21-2010, 06:48 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelB View Post
End of life care is supposed to be a major expense. This means that EOL care for a 90+ year old is greater than EOL care for a 75 year old with diabetes and such. This just doesn't sound right.
I agree this study is suspect, but I think what they are saying is the added annual medical costs of living an additional 15+ years in the example you give more than offsets the "savings" from EOL care for the 90 year old.

Either way, we all end up just as dead.
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Old 05-21-2010, 07:08 PM   #5
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I know this is not statistically relevant but my father and FIL both fit the category of extremely healthy at age 80, neither of them had any chronic illnesses in their entire lives.

In December my Dad collapsed at home with an aneuyrism and died after 2 days in hospital aged 84. So, pretty inexpensive health costs in his lifetime.

FIL, age 86, went into hospital a few days ago when his legs started giving way and he couldn't walk. He has now been diagnosed with lung cancer and depending on how aggressive and treatable it is will determine whether it is a few weeks in hospital and /or nursing home or a few weeks.
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Old 05-21-2010, 07:45 PM   #6
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Oh....I'm sorry about your FIL Alan.
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Old 05-21-2010, 10:43 PM   #7
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FIL died in March, just 2 months shy of his 94th birthday. His health began to decline between 75 and 80, and when he was about 85 he began to show signs of alzheimers. MIL suffered (mainly learned to live with the pain) with rheumatoid arthritis since her early 30s and had a hip replaced when she was about 70. From mid-70s through mid-80s it seems like one or the other of them was in the doctor's office at least monthly. During the past ten years or so, one or the other was at the doctor on a weekly basis.

Now that FIL has passed on, MIL has had cataract surgery on one eye and will have it on the other eye shortly. She's talking about knee replacement on one knee, then the other. She plans to rehab in a nursing home each time. If she rehabilitates the knees successfully, I expect she will have hip replacement surgery. She believes she will live another 10 years, and she probably will (genes).

If my in-laws are in anyway typical of people who were healthy at 70, I can see where the study might be right.
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Old 05-22-2010, 08:15 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelB View Post
We are missing an opportunity here. Conducting studies for companies that know the conclusion and just need the supporting data, and writing journalistic columns highlighting the conclusions about those same studies. It can't be that hard. I bet the regulars 'round here would do an excellent job in both categories...
I do believe that there are plenty of companies already in that business. They will also create web pages for you that look "independent" to promote the desired conclusions, and even start "grass roots campaigns" to promote your cause if needed.

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Old 05-22-2010, 09:20 AM   #9
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I do believe that there are plenty of companies already in that business. They will also create web pages for you that look "independent" to promote the desired conclusions, and even start "grass roots campaigns" to promote your cause if needed.

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Old 05-25-2010, 01:38 PM   #10
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This study concludes:

1) We all die.
2) If you live longer, you'll have more costs. (What MichaelB wrote.)

I wonder if the study had the lifetime savings for the healthy put into a T-bill and compounded. $105,000 can't be that difficult to find over 90 years.
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Old 05-25-2010, 02:21 PM   #11
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There is plenty of research in this area, and it is true, you use more health care by living a healthy life and live longer. For lots more info see:

In the Balance - washingtonpost.com

Yes, even obese smokers use less health care.

Also, many times prevention is more expensive than the cure, and sometimes much more expensive (per article above).

Fortunately, good health is a wonderful thing that is worth a lot even if it is expensive. Also, from an economic perspective, healthy people can be more productive and for much longer, providing many benefits to others which is not accounted for in the direct costs of health care (healthy people also eat more food, use more gas, travel more, etc. but that is not a bad thing)

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Old 05-25-2010, 02:35 PM   #12
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Soooo.... if you are 'healthy' your costs are $6500... but only $8500 if unhealthy...

This statement seems strange to me... that it only costs $2K more for unhealthy....


But, to put it the way they are saying... if you are healthy and live 29% longer... then the unhealthy person dies and you live on.... but you eventually become unhealthy and pay the $8500 in the last number of years... so in total you pay more...


Well, I can say the same for food costs of healthy vs unhealthy...

And occupancy costs... and almost any other kind of cost you want to compare... BECAUSE THEY ARE LIVING LONGER.....


What do you want us to do... put an expiration date on people and tell them... well, we paid all we are going to pay... see ya...
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Old 05-25-2010, 02:39 PM   #13
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Just a thought... and I kind of questioned this in my first post a minute ago.... is the the real cost or what they are paying

I can tell you that what I pay in insurance is a LOT more than it really 'costs' to provide health care for me... I am paying for someone that is UNHEALTHY... they are getting a 'free ride' on the costs if you want to compare...

So, lets raise the price to the sick and make them pay their fair share.... that will then mean the healthy do not pay as much...
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Old 05-25-2010, 02:48 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kramer View Post
There is plenty of research in this area, and it is true, you use more health care by living a healthy life and live longer. For lots more info see:

In the Balance - washingtonpost.com
A smoker with LDL >240 isn't living a healthy lifestyle. Statins or Lipitor would be treating an unhealthy person.

From the article,

Quote:
Up to age 56, an obese person's annual medical costs are higher than a smoker's, mostly because of problems that often come along with obesity, such as diabetes, arthritis and lower back pain. Healthy people have the lowest annual cost.

But over a lifetime, the researchers calculated, healthy people incur the most

cost, followed by the obese and then smokers, who die the earliest.

Again, are the savings compounded annually? We could put the savings into an account and calculate the withdrawal rate starting at age 56.

Some of the other examples in the article are more valid. One person (often a child) dies, we read an article about it, and then we spend millions of dollars to save a handful of lives.
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