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    Investing in good health at young age can help secure retirement. Here's how


    Focussing on health from a young age can reduce your financial burden in the retirement phase.

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    The earlier you start, the higher your chances of being in a healthier state over the long-term.
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    Health is wealth is an adage extolled as often as it is ignored. While awareness around fitness has increased over the past few years, Indians continue to fare poorly on several parameters.

    According to a study conducted by fitness device platform Goqii, Indians under the age of 45 saw a rise in the incidence of lifestyle diseases in 2018 compared to 2017. Incidence of diabetes rose to 5.1% from 3.6%, high blood pressure to 9.4% from 4.9%, high cholesterol to 12.1% from 5.4% and thyroid to 6.1% from 4.4%. A Cigna 360 wellbeing survey this year found that close to 82% of Indians suffer from stress, with work, health and finance-related issues being the major causes.

    Health is wealth
    What if maintaining good health directly translated into monetary rewards? Would that induce more Indians to work on their fitness levels? Some health insurers think so. Insurers like ManipalCigna, Max Bupa and Aditya Birla Health offer products that monitor and incentivise fitness activities. “These benefits range from simple health check-ups that help you take precautionary measures to rewards and discounts that enhance coverage or reduce premiums,” says Mohit Agarwal, MD, Employee Health, Benefits and Affinity, Marsh India.

    According to experts, constant monitoring and proactive action can postpone the onset of lifestyle diseases. “Today, many individuals are diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 25-30. It can be easily delayed by 10-20 years and in many cases prevented altogether with the help of diet and physical activities,” says Abhishek Shah, Cofounder and CEO, Wellthy Therapeutics. Take the case of 63-year-old retired banker Mahesh Nailwal. He has been practising yoga for the past two decades. “Regular expenses can spiral out of control if you have diabetes or other ailments. I barely need to spend money on medication thanks to my daily practice,” he explains.

    Maheshchandra Nailwal

    In Pic: Maheshchandra Nailwal, 63, Retired private banker, Mumbai
    Pension: Rs 50,000 per month
    Expenses: Rs 25,000 per month
    Smart tip for financial health
    “Focus on health from the time you are young. Poor health results in expenses becoming unmanageable even if your postretirement income is high.”

    Data corroborates his claim. Data from healthcare management firm Wellthy Therapeutics says a reduction of 1% in your HbA1c levels can have huge implications on your savings over the long-term.

    Save costs by cutting your HbA1c score
    Even a 1% reduction can translate to huge savings on medical care costs.

    Besides the cost of hospitalisation, diabetes can also reduce your productivity. “It can lead to disabilities, heart issues and eye-related concerns, dragging down your earning capacity,” adds Shah. Therefore, it is best to keep lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension at bay by adhering to a healthy regime from a young age, instead of taking action at a later stage.

    The earlier you start, the higher your chances of being in a healthier state over the long-term. “It is never too late to start, but as your body clock keeps ticking, you will have to invest more effort to extract the same amount of benefit,” says Shah. Much like investing in equities, it pays to start early, be systematic, dig in your heels and stay put over the long-term instead of looking to invest a lump sum closer to retirement.

    Health insurance plus
    A large health insurance policy is no substitute for good health. Even if you have purchased health insurance at a young age, the premium could spiral out of control by the time you need it during retirement. “At the age of 60 or 70, health premiums can shoot beyond affordable limits. Renewal premium for a Rs 5 lakh cover can rise to Rs 70,000. Many tend to terminate their policies at this stage,” says Pankaj Mathpal, Founder, Optima Money Managers.

    As a result, they are left without a cover at a vulnerable stage of their lives. “It is important to build a separate health kitty for retirement during your working years,” he adds. Also, remember to replenish this corpus regularly. Unlike the health insurance sum insured which is available for use every year, once your kitty is exhausted, rebuilding it from scratch will not be easy.

    This is exactly what retired government employee Bhuwanchandra Joshi, 76, has done. Out of his pension of Rs 50,000 per month, he sets aside Rs 10,000 in a liquid mutual fund every month to meet contingency needs. “This is needed irrespective of whether you have health insurance or not,” he says. It can foot bills for expenses not payable under your health policy and partly replace your unviable health policy if the need arises.

    Bhuwanchandra Joshi
    In Pic: Bhuwanchandra Joshi, 76, Retired government official, NCR
    Pension: Rs 60,000 per month
    Expenses: Rs 25,000 per month
    Smart tip for financial health
    "Set aside 20% of your pension, irrespective of whether you have health insurance or not, for medical emergencies."

    Beyond physical health
    While planning for retirement, you not only need to identify recurring as well as one-time large expenses like hospitalisation, but also activities that can keep you fruitfully occupied. This need is often ignored as finances take centrestage in a typical retirement planning strategy. Octogenarian J.P. Dhondiyal, a retired railway official, extended his career by 12 years after retirement by taking up assignments with leading corporates.

    J.P. Dhondiyal
    In Pic: J.P. Dhondiyal, 85, Retired government official & consultant, Ambala
    Pension: Rs 40,000 per month
    Expenses: Rs 15,000 per month
    Smart tip for financial health
    “Maintaining good health is key to enjoying a peaceful retired life. It helps keep finances in shape.”

    Not content with having his hands full, he worked on his mission to set up a school for underprivileged children in his hometown. “I always wanted to give back to society and work towards making such kids’ lives better,” he explains. The resolve has kept him going and he continues to oversee the affairs of the school.

    Both Nailwal and Joshi, too, keep themselves busy by engaging themselves in social and community service activities. Hobnobbing with others and contributing towards charitable causes can boost your overall well-being quotient, potentially reducing health ailments and thus, medical expenses.

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    3 Comments on this Story

    Reeta Saba349 days ago
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    rhp354 days ago
    a skewed article, a banker / govt officials almost throughout their work, had experience no pressure. Also a fat pension. Almost 90 % of salaried class with private cos or self employed have been experiencing throughout their work loss of jobs, less salary and no pension. Let our Econoxx Timxs give stories of the majority.
    Kris360 days ago
    If any doctor sees this article, immediately he will change his charges to pensioners assuring everyone follows this method.
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