Paying for health-care in old age is biggest worry among Canadians: Sun Life

TORONTO – Two thirds of Canadians say their biggest concern as they get older is their health, but less than a quarter report that they’ve planned or saved up for health costs in retirement, according to a survey conducted for Sun Life Financial (TSX:SLF).

The 2014 Sun Life Canadian Health Index found that 66 per cent of those surveyed said deteriorating health was their biggest worry going into old age.

Only 22 per cent said they had made financial plans for unexpected health emergencies once they stopped working even though more than half (53 per cent) said they worried about the cost of drugs and medical treatments.

Forty-seven per cent said worried about needing more long-term care than they have the money for, while 45 per cent said they fret over whether they’ll outlive their savings.

Among a subgroup of 444 retirees polled, 69 per cent said they did not stop working on the date they planned, with 41 per cent of that group citing health concerns as the mean reason they had to leave work early.

Kevin Dougherty, president of Sun Life Financial Canada, says people often think they will always have the option to work longer past retirement but that isn’t always the case when a health issue arises.

“The statistics show your retirement date may arrive sooner than you expected,” he said. “Simply working longer to make ends meet may not be possible after serious health events force many Canadians to leave the workforce, triggering a surprise retirement date.”

Of those who say they went through a major health event, 42 per cent said it resulted in either some or significant hardship, while 25 per cent said it had reduced or wiped out their savings.

The online survey of nearly 2,800 Canadian adults between the ages of 18 to 80 was conducted between June 18 and July 2 for Sun Life Financial by Ipsos Reid. The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error as they are not a random sample and therefore are not necessarily representative of the whole population.