New from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College is an issue brief with the provocative title, "Does Staying Healthy Reduce Your Lifetime Health Care Costs?" The answer is, "not so much:"
Our main finding is that although the current health care costs of healthy retirees are lower than those of the unhealthy, the healthy actually face higher total health care costs over their remaining lifetime. To illustrate, the expected present value of lifetime health care costs for a couple turning 65 in 2009 in which one or both spouses suffer from a chronic disease is $220,000, including insurance premiums and the cost of nursing home care, and 5 percent can expect to spend more than $465,000. The comparable numbers for couples free of chronic disease are substantially higher, at $260,000 and $570,000, respectively. This brief explains this somewhat counterintuitive finding.
It is kind of like the way being a very poor driver -- prone to accidents and the like -- may reduce your lifetime expenditures on automobiles.