Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Retirement and Risk: Betting on Your Genes?

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn of Health Populi points to an interesting report from the Society of Actuaries. In a survey of Americans age 45 to 80 both pre-retirees and current retirees are most concerned about the cost of health care in retirement. Pre-retirees worry about paying for "adequate care" and current retirees worry about paying for "long-term care". (These do not seem like mutually exclusive categories to me, but maybe I need to re-read the document: Understanding and Managing the Risks of Retirement: 2007 Risks and Process of Retirement Survey Report.) From a predictive health perspective, I wonder how personalized genetic information might change the risk perceptions and behaviors of those making retirement plans. Would, for example, a pre-retiring employee opt to work longer after acquiring a genetic test indicating an increased risk for a specific kind of cancer? If such a pre-retiree also learned that the peek incidence for almost all cancers is in late middle age and tapers off after about 70 years of age, they might work an extra decade just to be more certain that cancer wasn't "in the cards". On the other hand, would current retirees with genetic information that suggested a long (if not painless) lifespan purchase more aggressive insurance for long-term care? - J.O.

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