The following letters are in response to a P&I online poll asking, “Do you think the U.S. retirement crisis will be bigger than the health-care crisis?” The question is based on comments by Laurence D. Fink, BlackRock Inc. chairman and CEO, speaking June 16 at P&I's Global Future of Retirement conference, where he said the lack of defined contribution savings “will become the leading drag to the U.S. economy in the future,” and “be a far bigger crisis in this country than health care ever was.”
They are not really two separate things. Health care is the biggest retirement cost, and as mentioned at the conference, it is only going to grow as people live longer and new innovations drive up prices. Medicare as a function of future debt is the single biggest fiscal problem in the federal government. Since individuals need retirement funds to pay for medical costs, this question just boils down to semantics. Most people do not save enough for the future, period.
I voted no. ... The health-care crisis — considering Medicare, Medicaid and private (care) pay all acute and chronic costs, inclusive of nursing home care and Alzheimer's — is the over-65 crisis.
Income is only a crisis relative to the ability to pay for health programs for all ages.
Thus, I do not agree with what Mr. Fink's words imply, which is that health cost is not the cause of the retirement crisis. His prior speeches have primarily focused on retirement savings and mandating more savings as the answer.
DALLAS L. SALISBURY
President and CEO
Employee Benefit Research Institute