In sickness or in health: couples' health status and retirement prepartation

Lorayne B. Taylor
This study examines retirement preparation activities among a sample of University of Utah employees as predicted by past diagnoses for one of six major diseases among respondents and their spouses. This research combines data from the University of Utah Retirement Planning Survey (UURPS) with medical records from the Utah Population Database (UPDB). As a measure of retirement preparation, this study examines self-reported retirement planning behaviors and total wealth accumulation in the
more » ... lation in the UURPS. The UPDB provides data on the respondents' and their spouses' health histories. The availability of objective health measures from the UPDB provides an advantage over self-reported health status measures by using official diagnoses. The study examines health-related differences in retirement preparation in four domains: (1) meeting with an advisor, (2) opening a supplemental retirement account, (3) figuring retirement financial needs, and (4) total wealth accumulation. Health history of the respondent and spouse are measured in terms of hospitalizations since 1996 for ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease (stroke), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, and cerebral degenerations. A health history of cancer is measured both in terms of hospitalizations and diagnoses from the cancer registry dated back to 1966. The results of multivariate regressions indicate that those who have been diagnosed or whose spouse has been diagnosed with cancer are more likely to see an 5 advisor and open a supplemental retirement account. For females whose spouse had been diagnosed with cancer, there was a decrease in total retirement wealth of $67,600 compared to couples in which a cancer diagnosis had not occurred. The association between cancer diagnosis and retirement behaviors and savings could be greater in the general population due to the generous nature of the employee benefits available at the University of Utah, including both excellent health insurance with low out-of-pocket maximums and generous employer retirement participation. Implications for financial planners are discussed along with suggestions for further research based on the results of this exploratory study. iv 6
doi:10.26053/0h-7109-rzg0 fatcat:d2gixmxkdbd6tnmupugvvt2e54