Health Issues

Our health is really our greatest asset and maintaining our health is of tremendous importance. You want to do what you can to ensure that health issues will not jeopardize the enjoyment of your retirement years. There is nothing you can do to completely avoid health problems but you will try to minimize the problems as much as you can and ensure that problems that occur are dealt with as quickly and efficiently as possible. It is also an important fact that older people require more health care.

Once you retire and lose your workplace health benefits, you cannot necessarily rely on the government to address all of your health issues. You may be faced with large personal costs, particularly in the area of chronic care. Your provincial/territorial health care system covers all medically-necessary treatments, however, these programs do not always pay for some health-related issues such as:

  • Drugs (Pharmacare) – all provinces and territories currently provide support to seniors for drugs but the degree of coverage varies across the country
  • Dental Care – coverage will be limited to medically required procedures (in a hospital)
  • Chronic Care – some provinces offer chronic care but it may be difficult to obtain

Having health insurance can help protect you from some of the potential costs. Some examples are:

Group insurance plans

If you have been a member of a company group insurance plan your coverage may extend into retirement for certain health-related costs. However, even if the coverage is provided it is usually a reduced amount. Consult with your employer to determine if coverage is available.

Private Health Insurance

You can purchase private health insurance to cover expenses not covered by your provincial/territorial plan.

Critical Illness Insurance (CI)

CI pays you a lump sum if you experience one of a specified list of diseases or afflictions. Standard coverage applies to heart attack, stroke, coronary bypass and cancer although coverage for additional issues is available. The proceeds are not taxable and may be used for any purpose.

Long-Term Care (LTC)

The cost to live in a nursing home can be substantial, $2,500 per month is not uncommon. LTC insurance makes regular payments (monthly) if you require institutional or at-home care. The benefits begin when it can be shown you cannot take care of yourself as defined by the policy.

You should speak to a qualified insurance advisor to determine your need for these types of insurance.

Powers of Attorney for Personal Care or “Living Wills”

Unless you have completed a Power of Attorney for Property and Personal Care, if you become physically or mentally incapacitated and cannot take care of you own affairs, someone else, typically a family member, will have to approach the court and be appointed as your representative. This can result in several problems. First, where there are several adult children, the decision to name a representative may result in family conflicts and hard feelings. Second, the representatives will be making decisions about your care and future that may not be what you would have intended.

A Power of Attorney (POA) lays out specifically who will be your representative(s) and what powers they have. You should seek guidance from a lawyer when completing a Power of Attorney.

Your financial advisor can help you address how you can reduce the financial risk deteriorating health could cause.