TIAA Institute Study Provides New Insight Regarding Older Workers' Approach to Retirement Health Care

Study finds that older workers report a high level of concern over their ability to pay for out-of-pocket health expenses in retirement.

NEW YORK (MAY 20) – According to TIAA Institute research released today on older workers’ ability to pay for retirement health care expenses, only 17% of individuals have specifically saved for their expected retiree health care costs.

The study, conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic, surveyed 2,532 full-time workers aged 50 and older who were employed at one of 14 higher education systems. The study was undertaken by researchers Robert Clark, from North Carolina State University, and David P. Richardson and Brent J. Davis, from the TIAA Institute. The survey found higher levels of concern over the ability to pay for retirement health care among workers who have not reviewed their retiree health benefits.

“Understanding and preparing for healthcare costs is critical to retirement planning and overall financial wellness,” said Stephanie Bell-Rose, Head of the TIAA Institute. “This research provides employers with essential information on how older workers approach retirement health care costs, which can help them make informed decisions about retirement planning programs at their institutions.”

Additional key takeaways from the new TIAA Institute research include:

  • The vast majority of individuals, at all wealth levels, state their intention to pay for out-of-pocket healthcare costs in retirement is to rely primarily on Social Security and/or their retirement plan assets.
  • Only slightly more than half of respondents had reviewed their employer-provided retiree health benefit coverage (59%).
  • Fifty-three percent of respondents who save specifically to cover expected retiree health costs indicated concern over their ability to pay for these costs, significantly less than among non-savers (65%).
  • Even among households with total retirement assets of $250,000 or more, four in five individuals did not save specifically for retiree health costs.

To view the full report, “The cost of retirement health care: Expectations and concerns of older workers,” please click HERE.

Press Contact: John McCool, 888-200-4062,

About the TIAA Institute
The TIAA Institute helps advance the ways individuals and institutions plan for financial security and organizational effectiveness. The institute conducts in-depth research, provides access to a network of thought leaders, and enables those it serves to anticipate trends, plan future strategies and maximize opportunities for success. For more information about the TIAA Institute, visit and follow us on Twitter @TIAAInstitute.

About TIAA
With an award-winning  track record for consistent investment performance, TIAA ( is the leading provider of financial services in the academic, research, medical, cultural and government fields. TIAA has $1.1 trillion in assets under management (as of 3/31/2020 ) and offers a wide range of financial solutions, including investing, banking, advice and education, and retirement services.