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Financial planners—here’s how to help clients with healthcare

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Healthcare planning services needed as costs continue to rise

Financial advisors—are you prepared to help your clients plan for their healthcare needs in retirement? According to Fidelity Benefits Consulting, a 65-year-old couple retiring this year will spend $275,000 on healthcare in retirement, representing opportunity for financial advisors and wealth managers.

Healthcare must be integrated into comprehensive wealth management, but this can present a challenge to financial advisors and their clients. There are few consumer resources available to provide help and advice on Medicare, long-term care, medical bills, and other areas of healthcare spending concern.

This is why some financial advisors are building healthcare advisory services into their practices. This allows them to better serve existing clients nearing retirement age or with significant healthcare needs, and also serves as a marketing tool for prospects.

If you are thinking about building healthcare services into your financial advisory firm, you have a few options. One is to hire a healthcare advisor to work within your practice. Another is to develop relationships with local insurance brokers to whom you can refer clients, similarly to any attorney referrals you may make. One important note here, however, is to make sure any potential referral partners have individual advising services. Many insurance brokers work exclusively with group plans.

Other options include partnering with a third-party healthcare advising service, or building healthcare advising into your own suite of services. Regardless of which option you pursue, here are a few things you should think about.

How to help clients with healthcare

Insurance option consulting

Most retirement-age or near-retirement-age clients have more insurance options than they may realize. At the same time, insurance gets pricier the closer you get to Medicare eligibility, which means it’s especially important to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of your options, including drug coverage and dental and vision options. For couples, it does not always make sense to stay on the same health plan, especially if one spouse is eligible for Medicare while another isn’t. The best, most cost-effective strategy will vary situationally.

Audit medical bills

Estimates vary, but Medical Bill Advocates of America reports up to 80 percent of medical bills contain errors. These can range from incidental to thousands of dollars of incorrect charges. There are very few resources to help consumers audit and understand their medical bills, let along to act as an intermediary between the hospital and insurer in the event that a significant error occurs. Financial advisors are uniquely positioned to provide additional services to clients in this area.

Medicare and retirement advice

Most wealth managers are already experienced in providing retirement advice, but layering a background of Medicare know-how can add another level of strategic service. Healthcare is material to determining when to retire, both in terms of insurance options and in savings to offset out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. Further, Medicare can be particularly complicated. Consumers have a lot of choices—among Part A, Part B, Part C, drug coverage, donut holes, and Medicare Advantage—it’s really challenging for most people to feel like they have made the right choice.

Financial advisors can add a level of service to their practice, win new business from prospects and be on the cutting edge of providing comprehensive wealth management by providing a Healthcare Extension from Bernard Health. Learn more about our decade of experience helping families and individuals make the right healthcare choices.New Call-to-action

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