We practice Financial Life Planning. From a marketing perspective, we suggest we put life into our client’s plans. We take into account their current life style, goals and ambitions and there respective health. Every pitch we see for financial products, it is usually put forward where people have significant wealth and are in good health. Like skinny models in new clothing styles, they don’t represent the majority of people.
There are various parts of financial life planning that should be influenced by a person’s health. Someone in poor health or with medical problems should have an entirely different plan from a person who is healthy. For example, your life expectancy, and therefore how much you need to have in retirement savings, should reflect your health.
When you consider health as part of a financial life plan, you may think in terms of insurance premiums and related out-of-pocket costs like copays. While those expenses matter, your health should influence far more than a single line item in a cash flow. It’s way more than that. A healthy person needs a totally different [financial] plan from someone who has health issues.
Someone with significant medical problems, and therefore lower life expectancy, likely doesn’t need to plan to stretch out their retirement savings until age 100. That’s asking them to save too much, and they’re missing out on life now. Most financial planning focuses on planning for the future. We initially focus on living life today and setting benchmarks for future planning.
There are types of insurance that can be hard to get, if not impossible, once you have a health condition. A person with health issues or at risk for them needs to think more deeply about their insurance.
For instance, if you are young but have, say, a significant risk factor for diabetes, life insurance generally would be less expensive now than it would be if you were to apply after developing the disease.
The same goes for short-term and long-term disability insurance, which replaces lost income if you experience a health event that makes you unable to work. Even if you can get this insurance after developing a medical problem, insurers sometimes impose coverage exclusions for preexisting conditions.
Additionally, many people who consider long term care insurance don’t do so until they are near or in retirement. Long-term care involves help with everyday living activities, such as bathing and dressing, which many older people end up needing later in life.
However, by that point, they may have developed a health condition that makes such insurance coverage cost prohibitive or impossible to get. It’s best to think about those possible expenses further in advance ideally in your 40s or 50s.
Also, while everyone can benefit from having an estate plan so that your wishes are carried out, a person with health issues needs to prioritize end-of-life planning.
In addition to having a will that says who gets your belongings and other various assets, and confirming beneficiaries on accounts are the intended recipients, an estate plan should include a living will. This document outlines the health care you want and don’t want if you become unable to communicate those desires yourself.
You also should have powers of attorney assigned to trusted individuals for health care and, separately, your finances. Those people would make decisions on your behalf if you were to become incapacitated. Everyone needs those documents, but especially if you have significant health issues.
Your health care
As for budgeting for expenses directly related to tending to various aspects of your physical and mental well-being, it helps to think about what type of health care user you are.
You have people who rarely go to the doctor about anything, but then you have people who go to the doctor for everything, so that use drives health care costs more than anything. If you know how you use health care, you can better build that into your cash flow projections.
One constant in life is that our health will change over time. One of the key concepts we use in financial life planning is risk mitigation. We can’t wait until our health changes occur to take action. By then the risk or the cost to mitigate the risk to do so may be prohibitive.
Often young people seem that they are invincible and that their health won’t change. Nothing could be further from the truth and it is our fiduciary duty to at least table the discussion. Properly factored in financial life planning in the beginning, the inherent costs of a proper health risk mitigation strategy has proven to be invaluable for those who lose the hand they are dealt and end up having to deal with the impact a health challenge can present. Being pro-active has always led to #KeepingLifeCurrent.