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Rich still uncertain about economy

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Friday, October 29, 2010
Posted: 2 pm ET

The wealthy are having mixed feelings about the economy, according to the Merrill Lynch Affluent Insights Quarterly survey of 1,000 individuals who have investable assets of $250,000 or more.

Although 41 percent of those surveyed say they feel financially better off today than they did a year ago and 78 percent are confident their own financial picture will improve in the year ahead, they aren't feeling as chipper about the economy as a whole. A quarter say they are optimistic, and a quarter report the opposite. The remainder land somewhere in the middle.

Health care costs and concern over funding retirement really "pop" as concerns among the affluent in the survey, notes Andy Sieg, head of retirement and philanthropic services at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. A whopping 61 percent expect to retire later than they had originally planned, up from 29 percent in January. "That's a full two-times increase," says Sieg.  "Perhaps it's time to retire the word 'retirement'," he adds. "There is a real redefinition happening. For baby boomers in particular, later life is going to be more about second acts."

The rising cost of health care continues to rate as the top financial concern in the quarterly survey. The ability to pay for health care needs is cited by 47 percent of respondents, while 42 percent say they are uncertain of how future costs should factor into their overall financial plan, and 29 percent worry that Medicare will not be there when needed. More than a quarter of respondents -- 28 percent -- say they are confused about how health care reform will impact them personally. "There is palpable concern about the costs" of health care, Sieg says, adding that "health and wealth are two sides of the same coin."

Readers, how are you feeling about health care costs and retirement?

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