If you're healthy, you're wealthy, my mother-in-law likes to say. You can't dispute that. (And why would you want to disagree with my mother-in-law, anyway?) Still, this month's special report on retirement made me want to update and expand on her phrase: If you're not healthy, then even if you have been wealthy it's likely that you will spend through much, if not all, of that wealth if you need to live in a specialized facility or full-time care.

Extended longevity can be a wonderful phenomenon for those who are healthy. But even this group, as a whole, is worrisomely unprepared to finance life at age 85, let alone 95 or 105, a demographic that's expected to get a lot bigger in the decades to come. Add high health costs to long life and the blessing of unexpected years can feel like a curse.

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