5 scary facts about America’s broken health care system


Robert Pearl, CEO of the Kaiser Permanente health plan, lays out the dismal details of our current health-care system in his new book, “Mistreated: Why We Think We’re Getting Good Health Care — and Why We’re Usually Wrong” (PublicAffairs).

“When independent researchers crunch the numbers, American health care ranks nowhere near the top of the list,” he writes. “Among developed countries, the United States has the highest infant mortality rate, the lowest life expectancy and the most preventable deaths per capita.”

Pearl’s book shows why this is, and how we can affect positive change. Here are some of his more disturbing charges:

Medical errors are the third-leading killer in the US, accounting for almost 10 percent of all American deaths.

A 1999 study found that “98,000 people die in hospitals each year due to medical error.” But that figure soars closer to 200,000 annually when you include “doctors who fail to communicate effectively with their colleagues, doctors and nurses who dole out the wrong medications, and doctors who are responsible for causing or spreading hospital infections.”

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The Average Cost of Retirement Is $738,400: Will You Have Enough?


No one wants to spend their retirement bagging groceries, but without sufficient retirement savings, that’s how you may be spending your golden years. The latest Merrill Lynch Finances in Retirement Survey, released in March 2017, revealed that the average cost of retirement has risen to $738,400. Of that number, $260,000 will go to healthcare costs alone, according to Fidelity’s Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate.But $738,400 is just an average — retirees accustomed to high incomes may need even more than this to maintain their standard of living in retirement.

 Retirement income

Most retirees can expect to see their expenses drop when they retire, hence the standard recommendation that retirees will need 70% to 80% of their pre-retirement income. However, the amount of income you’ll need in retirement depends heavily on the kind of life you want to lead.

If you plan to settle down in your (paid off) home, living simply, then 70% of your current income is probably enough. On the other hand, if you want to live the high life in retirement, traveling around the world and generally indulging yourself, you’ll need a lot more than 70% of your pre-retirement income to have the retirement you want. And if you want to leave substantial assets to your family, you’ll need to set aside extra savings for them.

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Social Security: 6 Smart Ways to Get More Benefits

There’s talk in Washington of changing Social Security, and that has many people worried. After all, close to 61 million Americans depend on Social Security for income in retirement — the program pays out $918 billion in benefits annually.

Fortunately, Social Security is still here and intact — and if you make some smart moves, you can maximize the benefits you get from the program.

Here are six ways you might get more benefits from Social Security:

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How to Tell If You’re Ready to Retire

A whole generation of Americans will retire in poverty instead of prosperity,
because they simply are not preparing for retirement now.
— Scott Cook

Scott Cook is right. According to the 2016 Retirement Confidence Survey, about 26%of respondents said they had less than $1,000 saved for retirement. A whopping 64% had saved less than $50,000. These people — the majority of Americans — certainly do not seem ready to retire, no matter how appealing the idea may be to them.

If you’re one of those people, know that it’s not too late to significantly beef up your retirement savings and to set yourself up for more income in retirement Opens a New Window. . If you’re not, and you’ve been effectively saving and investing for retirement, it still can be hard to know just when you’re ready to retire. Here are five questions that can help you decide.

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This is the new retirement hotspot. Hint: It’s not Florida.

If you’re looking for an ideal place to retire, you may want to stay clear of the Sunbelt.

Those are the findings from Bankrate’s recent analysis of the best states in which to spend your golden years. The personal finance website studied all 50 states and ranked them on such criteria as tax rates, crime statistics, weather and quality of health care.

Warm weather and low taxes shouldn’t be the sole basis on which you decide to spend the rest of your life, said Claes Bell, an analyst for Bankrate.

“It’s not a place where you’re going on vacation,” he said. Florida, for instance, ranked 17th, as crime was a bigger issue there than in other locales.

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10 Retirement Stats Every Baby Boomer Should Know

Worried about retirement? You’re not alone. A large number of workers nearing the end of their careers are learning the hard way that retirement is expensive and that most older Americans simply aren’t prepared. If you’re thinking of retiring in the not-so-distant future, here are a few facts you should be aware of.

1. The Average Baby Boomer has $163,577 Saved for Retirement.

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Will You Have to Pay Taxes on Your Social Security Benefits?

Once you’re retired and no longer earning wages, it’d be nice if taxes were also a thing of the past. Unfortunately, you may not be able to leave your tax bill behind along with your job. In fact, one Social Security administration study predicted that an average of 56% of beneficiary families would pay taxes on their Social Security benefits between 2015 and 2050.

Why Social Security is taxable

Once upon a time, Social Security benefits were completely tax-free. Then, in 1983, President Reagan signed an amendment making up to 50% of Social Security benefits taxable. In 1993, President Clinton signed a bill that (among other things) made up to 85% of “higher income” Social Security recipients’ benefits subject to taxation. Unfortunately, that bill failed to provide a method for raising the tax’s income thresholds in response to inflation, so what was once a “higher income” threshold now includes a much wider range of Social Security beneficiaries.

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Report: Americans are Stressed About Retirement

The results are in and Americans aren’t feeling too confident about their retirement. The Employee Benefit Research Institute’s annual Retirement Confidence Survey just crossed the wires with some surprising results.

“We found that only 18% of people are very confident that they will have the ability to live comfortably in retirement,” Craig Copeland, senior research associate at the Employee Benefit Research Institute, tells FOX Business.

The report also shows that workers feeling very or somewhat confident has declined compared to last year (60% vs. 64%).

“Those people that have more debt are more likely to feel uncomfortable. So if they are not preparing today for their finances they are having a much more difficult time of being able to prepare for the future,” says Copeland.

And when it comes to medical expenses, 45% of workers are not too or not at all confident they will have enough money to cover them in retirement, while only 6 in 10 feel they will have enough money to provide long-term care, according to the report.

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Employers are trying to solve their workers’ retirement income problem

We already know the bad news: The disappearance of traditional pension plans has contributed to a retirement crisis in the U.S., in part because of increased risk that an investor will outlive her savings.

Anyone lucky enough to have a retirement plan at work these days — more than one-third of private-sector workers lack access — will likely have a defined-contribution plan, such as a 401(k). Those plans can present big hurdles come retirement time, when investors must determine how much they can safely withdraw so their nest egg lasts long enough.

Now, some better news: Private-sector companies are waking up to the problem.

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Your retirement may not be so horrible after all

Not everyone is envisioning a retirement of cat-food dinners and poor health. More than 90% of baby boomers and members of Generation X surveyed feel that their ideal retirement is “very attainable” or “somewhat attainable.”

That’s not too bad considering all the doom and gloom about meager retirement accounts and the anxiety surrounding this phase of life. T. Rowe Price surveyed 2,001 people aged 36 and older who are either retired or have “taken initial steps to prepare for retirement” on their feelings about retirement and financial and personal goals. They seem to be feeling pretty good.

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