Only nine per cent of Canadians factor health care expenses into retirement savings



    Sun Life Financial survey reveals health care costs in retirement a
    concern, but few are taking steps to address it

    TORONTO, Feb. 15 /CNW/ - A recent Sun Life Financial survey reveals that
few working Canadians have factored the need to pay for certain aspects of
their health care into their retirement savings. Survey results reveal that
only nine per cent of working Canadians have accounted for health care
expenses in their retirement savings, and 80 per cent of Canadians expect that
their provincial health care program will provide them with health benefits in
retirement.
    Canadians appear to know that they need to put aside money for health
care spending in retirement, but have not taken the steps to address the
reality. Sixty-five per cent of respondents said they expect to spend some of
their retirement income on health care, however the percentage of Canadians
who have actually saved for this expense in retirement is far less at only
37 per cent.
    "Paying for health care in retirement is something that is definitely on
the minds of Canadians, employers and the government," said Brigitte Parent,
Senior Vice-President, Group Benefits, Sun Life Financial Canada. "What we've
seen is that Canadians are looking for ways to get ready to pay for health
care costs in retirement and this survey reinforces that, but also highlights
the fact that they are not acting on these concerns just yet."
    Conducted by Omnitel, a division of Maritz Research, the survey shows
that 36 per cent of Canadians are looking to their employer to provide health
care benefits in retirement, with males more likely than females to say that
they are expecting their employer to provide them with retiree health care
benefits (39 per cent vs. 32 per cent).
    While 42 per cent of Canadians said that they worry about paying for
health care expenses in retirement, a majority have not planned for it. When
asked about the amount of money needed for health care spending in retirement,
43 per cent of respondents said they did not know what they expect to spend
annually on this cost. Amounts ranged from more than $13,000 to less than $500
a year.
    "As a provider of group benefits, we're seeing that while some employers
are shifting away from full-employer paid benefits, a great number of them are
also looking for ways to provide their employees with access to coverage in
retirement," added Parent. "That's why it's so important for Canadians to
understand whether or not they will have access to coverage and use that
information, along with other factors such as their age at retirement, any
private coverage they might have and general state of health, to plan for
retirement."
    Sun Life Financial suggests that individuals think about the following
questions when considering how much they need to save for health care expenses
in retirement:

    
    -   Do you or your spouse have employer-provided health care retirement
        benefits or have access to health benefits in retirement? And if so,
        what types of health care costs are covered?
    -   Do you have any other coverage (i.e. long term care insurance,
        critical illness insurance) that will provide for you, should you
        fall ill in retirement?
    -   Are any of your current health care needs (i.e. medication,
        paramedical services), covered by your provincial health care plan
        for retirees?
    

    "At Sun Life, we know that paying for health care in retirement is of
concern to Canadians, and we are actively working with our customers and the
government to look at ways to help Canadians address some of the challenges
associated with an aging population," added Parent.

    Differences across the country

    Attitudes on health care spending are generally similar across the
country, with some very interesting variances. The following chart outlines
working Canadians' attitudes toward health care spending in retirement:

    
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Question        National     BC      AB    MB/SK     ON      QC  Atlantic
                                                                        Can
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Which of the following statements best describes how you expect to
    pay for your health care expenses during retirement?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Rely on
     provincial
     health care
     to provide          80%     84%     76%     80%     82%     78%     76%
     benefits in
     retirement
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Plan to pay
     for health
     care expenses       58%     66%     54%     63%     61%     51%     53%
     out of own
     pocket
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Rely on
     employer to
     provide you         36%     35%     24%     27%     38%     36%     44%
     with health
     benefits
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    What steps have you taken to pay for your health care expenses when you
    retire?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I have not
     taken any
     steps to            51%     61%     62%     58%     57%     25%     50%
     pay for my
     health care
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Savings/
     Investments         16%     18%     17%     14%     20%     11%      9%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Purchased
     personal
     health care         11%      5%     10%     17%      5%     17%     24%
     insurance
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Factored into
     my retirement        9%      9%      5%      8%      7%     14%      9%
     savings
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Don't know/
     Other               16%      6%      7%      4%     12%     37%      9%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    

    The national telephone survey was conducted between January 8 and
January 19, 2008. A total of 1,530 working Canadians (working full time, part
time or self employed) were interviewed. Survey findings are accurate, plus or
minus 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20. More information about the survey can
be found on www.sunlife.ca/retirement.

    About Sun Life Financial

    Serving one in every five Canadians, Sun Life Financial is a leading
international financial services organization providing a diverse range of
protection and wealth accumulation products and services to individuals and
corporate customers. Chartered in 1865, Sun Life Financial and its partners
today have operations in key markets worldwide, including Canada, the
United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan,
Indonesia, India, China and Bermuda. As of December 31, 2007, the Sun Life
Financial group of companies had total assets under management of
$425 billion.
    Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and
Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under ticker symbol SLF.

    Note to editors: All figures shown in Canadian dollars unless otherwise
    noted.





For further information:

For further information: Media Contact, Krista Wilson, Manager, External
Communications, Sun Life Financial, (519) 888-3900 x4896,
krista.wilson@sunlife.com


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