Biotech Breakthroughs Are Wreaking Havoc on Retirement Plans – Are You Prepared?

Nancy Fehrenbach |

experiencing a period of breakthrough advancements.  Immunotherapies, gene-editing, stem cell therapies, and targeted cancer treatments are among many technologies providing amazing new avenues to cure previously debilitating and fatal diseases.  The ability to share advancements through the internet has fueled the progress.  People are living longer thanks to these therapies.

Biotech’s advancements are wreaking havoc on peoples’ retirement plans and the effect has been greatly underestimated.  People approaching retirement have watched their parents and grandparents retire from work at 65 and then live a few years before passing.  But average life expectancy has increase from 68 years in 1950 to 79 years in 2013.  It is more and more common to know someone who is 100+ years old.  Strokes, if treated quickly, are no longer the death sentence they once were. 

With the breakthroughs in biotechnology, lifespans are increasing.  Retirement funds have to be stretched over longer life spans.  One can no longer plan to have retirement funds covering to age 80.  Now one must plan for the increasing likelihood of living to 90 or even 100 – essentially doubling the time spent in retirement.

While there have been advancements to increase longevity, it opens up the need for increased care later in life as both the mind and body simply start to wear out.  The need for assisted living and memory care are increasing as life spans lengthen.  This is yet another drain on retirement funds.

Previous generations had the advantage of defined benefit plans funded by the companies they worked for to help them with funds that would never run out.  Individuals today have been left to fund and manage their own retirements with 401(k)’s and IRAs.  In addition, people have often foregone retirement savings to meet current needs.  They are then left to make sure their funds last as long as they do.

Individuals need to step back and take a fresh look at retirement. 

The next time you speak with your financial advisor, make sure you get answers to these questions:

  • Have you adjusted your life expectancy in your financial plan to meet the new reality of a possible longer life span? 
  • Can your retirement fund keep you comfortable through a long life? 
  • Are you able to pay for the services you will need as you age and possibly need long-term care?

We want you to look forward to a long life – not be afraid of one.  Let us help you plan for a long and fulfilling life.