Maintaining Your Good Health into Retirement
Most financial advisors focus on those who are not ready for retirement or those who don’t have enough money saved. The following information is for those who are financially ready for retirement and are wondering how to make sure their retirement savings will last.
WealthSmith Financial Planning specializes in helping clients meet their financial objectives by providing financial planning strategy and guidance, with emphasis on fiscal retirement planning. Entering retirement with the financial resources you need to live a comfortable life in retirement is only half of the equation, though. Maintaining good health throughout your life and into retirement is essential if you want to ensure your retirement savings isn’t whittled away by late in life health care expenses.
You may feel like you have enough money to retire and live 30 good years in retirement. However, major health care expenses can hijack even the best financial planning. For example, you may have planned for long term care expenses by investing in long term care insurance or by saving “extra” money for anticipated health care expenses. But what happens if you need long term health care that doesn’t include an assisted living facility or nursing home?
The high cost of prescription drugs, Medicare Part D’s coverage gaps and unpredicted health and life events can all derail your retirement planning and budget. Unexpected long-term health conditions can make it hard for you to stay active and enjoy that 30 years of retirement, while also draining your retirement savings.
It comes down to this: you have to find a health care system that does more and gives you a better shot at having a long and healthy retirement. I believe I have found this system.
Prepare for Retirement with a New Health Care Delivery System
My name is Gary Smith and I’ve been in the financial planning field almost my entire adult life. I have facilitated retirement plans for individuals, couples, divorcees, widows, widowers and just about every walk of life. I speak from experience when I tell you that it is a challenge to plan for unforeseen illnesses, illnesses that in the moment feel devastating and seem to make no sense at all.
How many times have you heard stories like this?
“My wife is fighting stage four lung cancer. She has never smoked a day in her life and now the doctor is telling us that she only has a few weeks to live.”
“My mom is fighting a form of blood cancer. She had the flu or so she thought, and now just seven weeks later she is in hospice care.”
These are heart-wrenching stories that we have all heard or experienced ourselves. The second example was my own personal experience. We thought my mother had the flu, but she actually had blood cancer. I had no idea she was sick with a terminal disease and found myself wondering why the diagnosis wasn’t made sooner and wasn’t identified in all of the preventative care visits she’d had with her physicians in the months previous.
I found out that there is a reason that certain types of illnesses are not being diagnosed early on by doctors — it’s because many doctors are not testing for a wide-range of illnesses because insurance companies will not pay for these tests.
A New Approach to Good Health
Ask yourself this question: what do you do to make sure that you protect your car from the high cost of an accident? You buy car insurance, right? Great! But what does that car insurance do to give you the best opportunity to survive a deadly crash? Absolutely nothing. That is why so many of us look for the safest vehicle we can find and sometimes even you pay a higher sticker price so that you give yourself the best shot you can at walking away from an accident.
The same holds true with food. Making sure that you avoid fast foods and eating lots of fruits and vegetables used to be enough. But that’s not necessarily true anymore. Scientists and doctors now are advising the public that organic vegetables and fruits may be better than conventionally grown produce due to the pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals used on conventional crops and those chemicals’ adverse effects on your health. In other words, you have to do more!
You need to take a similar approach to your health if you want to ensure your retirement savings aren’t eaten up by unforeseen medical expenses and long-term illnesses. The reality is that traditional medical practices are no longer in control of health care like they were 30 or 40 years ago. The care provided by traditional medical practices is largely controlled by insurance companies and their rules for reimbursement. At the same time, large medical groups are buying up smaller family practices and are sometimes owned by hospitals with ties to the insurance industry.
Are You Getting What You Need from Your Doctor? Let’s hear from a Family Physician who has decided to leave traditional medicine for a model that is focused on the patient, not on what the insurance companies tell doctors they should be focused on.
Meet Dr. Christine Blake Smith. For years, practitioners concentrated on prevention. We educated, tested, screened, biopsied, and took a very proactive approach to keeping patients alive and healthy. Because we did such a great job, we now have a huge population that is living longer and growing exponentially. Physicians now are required to treat patients based on population-based outcome studies in the name of cost effectiveness, because the number of lives saved by screening is not high enough to warrant spending the dollars on the screenings. These outcome studies often are showing that many or most of the services that used to be part of a physical are not cost effective.
As a result, insurer coverage of preventative services has been cut drastically and the physical exam recommended is quite incomplete — it skips most cancer screenings, no longer encourages self-breast exams, doesn’t include skin exams and doesn’t require doctors to check for markers for cardiovascular disease. Millions of patients are leaving their providers’ offices thinking, “Well that was easy — I did everything my doctor told me I should do and everything looks normal, so I must be healthy.” However, patients are not getting a truly complete physical, rather they are getting the tests and inquiries that are recommended by insurers and considered cost effective for the population.
It obviously is not desirable nor cost effective for you as the patient to get skin cancer. However, insurers may find it cost effective for someone with your demographic profile to forego a skin cancer screening because they deem it too costly or have found that negative biopsies are common for your demographic. Doctors are also being encouraged to provide group patient visits. In fact, it is already happening across the United States and right here in Maine. Even if you do have a one-on-one visit with a doctor, you are limited to 8 to 10 minutes, which is neither safe nor holistic. The third leading cause of death is medical error and it is not difficult to see why.
I, Dr. Christine Blake Smith, am transitioning to a new personalized, comprehensive wellness model of medicine called MDVIP. In the MDVIP model, patients receive an extensive wellness exam with a personalized treatment plan that encompasses a nutrition and exercise prescription based on lab work and body analysis. The MDVIP wellness exam includes an extensive workup for cardiovascular risk in addition to focusing on diabetes prevention, cancer screening, mental health, sexual health and pain management by providing necessary testing and screening not covered by medical insurance or offered in most clinics/hospitals.
The MDVIP model includes longer office visits — 30-90 minutes as opposed to the traditional 8 to 10 minutes — to allow a complete evaluation of your health and wellness that supports your longevity, quality of life and independence. Your MDVIP physician can treat you anywhere in the world 24 hours/day by phone, the internet or a secure medical video system. Eighteen years’ worth of published studies show that a doctor’s ability to be proactive and available for patients in the MDVIP model provides significant out of pocket cost savings to the patient, to insurance companies and the healthcare system in general, by drastically reducing hospitalizations and poor outcomes such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
If you need a specialist and there is not a practitioner nearby who can treat you, or you have a rare disorder or complex situation your MDVIP provider can access to the Medical Centers of Excellence Program’s national network of physicians to get you the care that you need. When a patient is diagnosed with a disease or condition, we believe the patient has the right to decide on the treatment and we will always be on the patient’s side, arming you with all of the current information to empower you to make appropriate, informed decisions about your body and life.
To learn more about the benefits of MDVIP medicine, connect with a Portland, Maine-based MDVIP practice that can provide personalized medical care to keep you healthy well into retirement, visit https://www.mdvip.com/doctors/ChristineBlakeSmithDO.
Christine Blake Smith, DO, is my wife.
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