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Better to be rich than poor

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Posted: 9 am ET

If you want to be healthy in retirement, then you had better make sure that your retirement planning allows you to be wealthy or at least reasonably well off.

At age 65, your income is a good indicator of how healthy you are, according to a new study by the United Health Foundation that analyzed a collection of academic, state and federal data. The study found that more than 60 percent of older adults with household incomes greater than $75,000 say that their health is very good or excellent, while only 26 percent of those with household incomes of $25,000 or less reported that their health was that good.

One of the telling measures is dental care. At ages when everyone needs routine visits to the dentist, the study found that nationwide, only 66 percent of people 65 and older had seen a dentist in the previous 12 months. The analysis concluded that how often someone visits a dentist is closely tied to whether that person has dental insurance. In 2004, only 24 percent of people 65 and older had private dental coverage because most people lose their dental insurance when they retire.

Where you live also affects your retirement outlook. The study ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia according to 34 factors affecting the health and well being of residents age 65 and older. One factor was the percentage of people in that age group living in poverty -- ranging from a low of 5.4 percent in Alaska to a high of 13.5 percent in Mississippi.

Senior health rankings

Rank Top 10 states Rank Bottom 10 states
1 Minnesota 1 Texas
2 Hawaii 2 Nevada
3 New Hampshire 3 Tennessee
4 Vermont 4 Alabama
5 Massachusetts 5 West Virginia
6 Colorado 6 Arkansas
7 Utah 7 Oklahoma
8 Oregon 8 Kentucky
9 Delaware 9 Louisiana
10 Wisconsin 10 Mississippi

Source: United Health Foundation

The study compared the amount the states spend to assist impoverished people ages 65 and older. That varied from a high of $8,033 per year per adult in Alaska to a low of $283 in Nevada. The national average is $1,147.

All this information is collected into an enormous report, and then broken down by state. The two states at the bottom of the heap were Mississippi and Louisiana.

Whether you are rich or just getting by, one overwhelming conclusion that you can cull from this compendium of data is the importance of a comprehensive retirement plan so you don't spend your last years dependent on the generosity of strangers.

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