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This Web site contains a compilation of more than a thousand consumer finance  columns written by Tony Novak from the 1980s through 2006, updated and reformatted for maximum usefulness today.  New material was added after 2010.

Content is the opinion of the author and does not represent the position of any other person or entity. Information is from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed.

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Health care planning

originally posted: 11/22/2006  reposted: 2/18/2011 This post has not been recently reviewed or revised by the author and may be out of date. If you notice an error or are in doubt, please send a new question by email or ask for an update. Email

Q: As I get older (mid 50's), individual insurance is getting prohibitively expensive. Soon, the premiums will exceed my ability to pay without robbing considerable amounts of my retirement monies. If I find myself unable or unwilling to let this continue and simply give up on insurance, are my Roth/IRA holdings protected from creditors (such as a hospital, should I need to get care) or can they make claims on that as well? (in the event that I can't pay the total bill).

A: As health care costs continue to grow larger than our other living expenses, this must become the central focus of our personal financial planning. The fact is that the largest usage of retirement funds for most of us will be for health care costs. Some will be able to support these costs from personal assets, many others will not. The simple answer is that any U.S. citizen without health insurance or other financial resources will be given health care under the welfare system. First you must spend down (or re-arrange) your financial assets to the amounts specified in the current Medicaid eligibility levels. In the past it was possible to distribute assets to family members or protect some account. Every few years the federal law changes to make this more difficult. At this point, Medicare applicants can protect only minimal assets. The best approach is to remove this money from an IRA and place it with the best Medicaid-qualified income annuity.


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