Financial planning tip: make sure your health care needs are covered - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

Financial planning tip: make sure your health care needs are covered

Posted: Updated:
(ARA) - Are you thinking about a major life or career change, such as early retirement or starting your own business? One of your major considerations should be health care costs. Can you obtain private insurance for you and your family? What happens if you don't have coverage and get sick or injured? If you purchase coverage and don't use it, are you just wasting money?

If you think that rising health care costs down the road might put a strain on you and your family, you're not alone: 50 percent of today's workers are "not too" or "not at all" confident about having enough money to pay for their medical expenses in retirement, according to the 2011 Retirement Confidence Survey by the Employee Benefits Research Institute.

"Smart financial planning should include smart health care planning, so you have the security of knowing you and your family will have health care coverage no matter where life takes you," says Richard A. Collins, CEO of UnitedHealthcare's Golden Rule Insurance Company.

"As you prepare for the future, whether that involves planning an early retirement, leveraging your skills to launch a new business or making sure your family is protected in uncertain economic times, it's important to have access to health insurance that helps you live the life you want without putting your future health and insurability at risk."

But not everyone knows where to begin when shopping for the right coverage, and there's no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to health insurance. As you plan for your future coverage needs, be sure to take into account a few important considerations that could have long-term effects on your future health and finances:

* Be realistic about your financial situation, and make a careful assessment of what you expect your disposable income to be in the future. By taking stock of your income, spending habits and financial obligations, you can more accurately begin to budget for your health care needs and avoid dipping into your savings.

* Determine your health care needs. How often do you visit the doctor? Do you take prescription medications? Do you exercise regularly? Are you a smoker? Your health needs and lifestyle choices today have real implications for your health care costs down the road.

* Start early. It's never too soon to start thinking about how your health may affect your future finances. While you cannot predict the future, you can seek preventive health care and take steps to be better prepared in case of an unforeseen health issue or medical expense.

Developing a plan can help ensure that you can maintain your health coverage throughout life's changes, whether you retire early, switch jobs or start your own business. One area to explore is the individual insurance market where new products offer quality insurance with the kind of flexibility that employer-offered plans may not provide.

Collins mentions that UnitedHealthcare offers Continuity (R) - an insurance feature available exclusively with Golden Rule individual market health insurance plans - that allows you to apply for and "lock in" coverage based on your health status today and turn off your health insurance until you need it. You also don't have to worry about losing your insurance because of a health or career change, since you only complete the underwriting process once - when you apply. For more information, visit www.goldenrule.com/continuity.