Wellness for Life Survey Reveals 9 out of 10 Americans Significantly
Underestimate Health Care Costs in Retirement
Aviva USA and Mayo Clinic survey finds unrealistic expectations about health
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- May 13, 2013
Americans may be stunned when they realize how big a financial bite health
care may take out of their retirement savings.
According to the annual Wellness for Life survey of nonretired adults by Aviva
USA, in collaboration with Mayo Clinic, nine out of 10 people expect to spend
less than 20 percent of their monthly retirement income on medical and dental
expenses. Seven out of 10 expect to spend just 10 percent or less. In reality,
people should be prepared to spend approximately 30 percent of their income on
health care expenses in retirement, according to The Urban Institute.
“These are staggering discrepancies between people’s perception and current
reality,” said Dr. Philip Hagen, medical director of Mayo Clinic EmbodyHealth
and vice chair of the Division of Preventive and Occupational Medicine at Mayo
Clinic. “This survey revealed most Americans are unrealistic about some of the
repercussions of lifestyle choices and aging – specifically, that as you get
older, your health is apt to decline and your need for health care increases.
That need for additional care also means there will be additional costs.
Getting regular preventive care and improving lifestyle habits to decrease
health risks can help reduce these expenses and improve health and quality of
Many people seem ill-prepared for the expense. Only four of 10 people surveyed
said they are, or will be, financially prepared for retirement. That statistic
becomes even more concerning when you factor in how much people underestimate
health care expenses in retirement, and that the cost of health care continues
Aviva USA and Mayo Clinic are working together to provide wellness benefits,
resources and expertise to encourage better financial and physical health for
Aviva’s Wellness for Life policyholders. Wellness for Life is a unique
enhancement to a life insurance policy in the form of an optional rider that
can reduce out-of-pocket premium costs over time when the Aviva client lives a
“This survey reveals the opportunity that exists for people to rethink the
role health and wellness plays in retirement planning,” said Chris Jones,
chief marketing officer for Aviva USA. “Helping people improve their financial
well-being and rewarding health-conscious behaviors of our policyholders are
some of the reasons we created the Wellness for Life rider, which enables
people to save money on their life insurance while also providing them access
to wellness resources from Mayo Clinic.”
The second annual survey by Aviva USA in collaboration with Mayo Clinic
focused on the tie between health, finances and retirement issues. Ipsos, a
leading global market research company, conducted the survey of nearly 1,500
nonretired U.S. adults on their health habits and financial preparedness. The
survey results revealed how unrealistic people are about their health and
financial situation, and it illustrated how few people are doing some of the
most basic things that could lead to improved health and a less-stressful
For example, Mayo Clinic recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a day,
and additional activity throughout the day to reduce overall sedentary time.
Two out of three people surveyed exercise less than two hours per week. And
yet, four out of five of those people who are not getting the minimum
recommended amount of exercise expect their health to stay the same or even
improve in retirement.
Among some of the other key health care-related findings were:
*One in six survey respondents said they go to the doctor less frequently
than once every two years.
*Only one in eight Americans say they are currently unhealthy, including
just one in 60 who say they are very unhealthy. However, more than 35
percent of American adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.
*Almost half of survey respondents (46 percent) said their weight has
increased somewhat or a great deal compared to 10 years ago. Just 16
percent said their weight has decreased.
*Despite the trends of minimal exercise and increased weight, 23 percent of
Americans expect their health to be improved in retirement.
“People need to take action now to improve their health in the short and long
term,” Hagen said. “Ultimately, that can reduce their overall health care
expenses and improve their quality of life.”
The survey suggests Americans need to take action to improve their financial
health in retirement as well. One in three people surveyed don’t feel they
will be prepared for retirement, and only half of those surveyed said they
have a plan to achieve their financial goals.
The plans some have may be a bit shaky, based on the sources they are relying
on for their financial future. Nearly half of the respondents expect Social
Security to play a very important role in funding their retirement, while
part-time work and home equity are listed by one in five as very important
sources for retirement funding. Half the people surveyed said they sometimes
get overwhelmed when they think about preparing their finances for retirement.
“We think it’s important to remember when planning for your retirement all the
unique benefits a life insurance policy offers,” Jones said. “With Wellness
for Life, we’ve linked physical wellness today to financial wellness tomorrow
by encouraging consumers to take simple, powerful steps toward physical and
financial health. It’s part of our commitment to putting people before
policies. Speaking with a financial services provider is a great first step
toward financial health.”
The Wellness for Life program rewards customers for seeing a physician
regularly and for maintaining a healthy weight – two factors Mayo Clinic
emphasizes as keys to enhancing well-being. Additionally, Mayo Clinic offers
supporting resources and expertise to help Wellness for Life policyholders
manage their health. Best of all, insurance costs can only go down with the
Wellness for Life program and will never increase as a result of doctor
More information about the survey and about Aviva’s Wellness for Life program
can be found on avivausa.com.
About the survey
The survey was conducted Feb. 11-15, 2013. A national sample of 1,457
nonretired adults aged 18 and older were interviewed online. The sample was
representative of the general U.S. population based on region, gender, age and
household income data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Ipsos is a leading global
survey-based market research company that helps interpret, stimulate and
anticipate the needs and responses of consumers, customers and citizens around
About Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care, research and
education for people from all walks of life. For more information,
About Aviva USA
Aviva USA is a sales leader of indexed life insurance and indexed annuities.
Headquartered in West Des Moines, Iowa, Aviva USA also has offices in Topeka,
Kan., and Melville, N.Y. Aviva USA has approximately 930,000 customers,
employs 1,800 people across the country and can trace its presence in the U.S.
back to 1896. Wellness for Life is not available in all states.
Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available:
Aviva Media Contacts:
Kevin Waetke, Public Relations Director
Steve Carlson, Public Relations Manager
Mayo Clinic Media Contact:
Ginger Plumbo, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs
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