A new survey from Financial Freedom, the nation’s largest reverse mortgage lender, takes a look at the financial, social, and quality of life attitudes of older Americans.

So, how are they paying for their health care? When it comes to sudden illness, the survey finds that 51 percent of seniors age 62 to 75 expect to rely on supplemental insurance beyond Medicare. But beyond that, it looks pretty grim.

  • 46 percent will rely on their health plan
  • 26 percent plan to pull cash out of their retirement accounts.
  • 8 percent plan to leverage or sell their home.
  • 6 percent plan to rely on the largess of their family or children.
  • 5 percent say they will use a reverse mortgage.
  • 15 percent said “Other.”

It’s the “other” that concerns me. At least the other 85 percent of “young” seniors have a plan. Those who said “other” clearly DON’T have a plan — which can spell big T-R-O-U-B-L-E when the cost of health care in retirement (beyond anything Medicare provides) is estimated to cost anywhere from $200,000 to $750,000.

Where are you? Have you thought about how you’ll finance your health care costs when you’re 80? What about when you’re 90?

Although I love my children, the thought of relying on them to pay my health care costs when I’m 90 and they’re 60-something is a little frightening. There’s always long-term care insurance, but it really only pays if you’ve got enough to cover the costs of the policy but not quite enough to self-insure.

I can see living with my kids someday — just not asking them to pick up my Advil bill.

March 20, 2006.