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The general consensus among retirement experts is that the earlier one leaves the work force, the more expensive his or her cost of living will be over the long-term. A recent study supports this notion with some surprising numbers related to healthcare spending.
 
The analysis, which was sponsored by the Society of Actuaries, found that the average 55-year-old retiree will spend about $226,000 more on healthcare alone than a person who retires at the traditional age of 65—provided that both people live to their mid-80s.
 
The SOA's "Healthcare Costs from Birth to Death" report is believed to be one of the first that examines healthcare spending over a nearly 100-year period. One of its chief takeaways is that aging is not as significant a driver of the country's high healthcare costs as has been widely perceived.
 
"This study shows it's a much smaller factor than most people think," said Dale Yamamoto, actuary and the study's chief author.
 
David Newman, executive director for the Health Care Cost Institute, added that what's great about the study is that Yamomoto and his colleagues have combined commercial and Medicare data to present a more comprehensive look at how age factors into the cost of receiving medical treatment over one's lifetime.
 
"This report should spur further research and help inform policymakers about what is driving health spending," said Newman.
 
The report also examined healthcare spending among men vs. women, spending on children and the effect of disease on healthcare costs.
 
The entire report can be downloaded in PDF format on the HCCI's website.