For the March issue of Practical Accountant, I wrote a feature on the growing medical care component of retirement planning. Rapidly rising costs, a new confusing Medicare prescription drug program, and a decrease in employer-paid medical care benefits are just some of the obvious reasons for medical care to now come more to the forefront in retirement planning.

The article also focuses on an important decision for those getting close to retirement whether to buy long-term care insurance, and what should be included in the policy coverage. In the feature, I also mentioned there was fast moving legislation that would dramatically tighten the Medicaid rules. The legislation was enacted.

After completing the article, I concluded that most individuals will experience great difficulty in identifying the issues that should be considered, as well as understanding and evaluating the available alternatives with regard to medical care coverage during retirement. With the important recent developments in this area, especially the federal legislation, anyone who is about to retire or is retired is forced to make decisions in a game where the rules have dramatically changed.

This puts retirement planners in the position of having to be aware of the issues and, obligates them to raise those issues and frame them for clients. Retirement planners are going to quickly find that they will be spending more time on the medical care component of retirement planning. In talking to practitioners for the articles, I found that many clients raise concerns on these matters even before the practitioners could raise the issue.

To provide an immediate comfort level to clients, now is a good time for accountants involved in retirement planning to publicize their expertise to advise and educate clients on the medical care component of retirement planning.

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