When a client who Carolyn McClanahan thought was 70 walked into her office, the woman told her she hadn’t been to a doctor in decades.
“Why are you coming in to see me now,” McClanahan, MD, CFP® asked.
The woman, who was actually 98, wanted to participate in her weekly tradition of acting out a play with her friends and needed a doctor to cut a thick toenail so she could fit in her fancy shoes.
When it comes to clients’ health, it runs the gamut from people like the 98-year-old recreational actress to chain-smoking overweight clients to vegan yoga practitioners. McClanahan said it is a good idea to incorporate discussing health into your practice to help your clients save money on insurance rates and overall health care spending.
“People are more comfortable talking about their health than they are about their money,” McClanahan said.
Regardless if your client has health issues, start with Livingto100.com, which helps project people’s longevity so you can do better planning.
McClanahan says incorporating health care into the discussion has three components: getting a health history, finding out what your clients’ health care mindset is and discussing advance directive planning. McClanahan offers the following tips to apply to discussing health with your clients:
The health history: start with open-ended questions. To get a better sense of your client’s health history, ask them an open-ended question. A good one is, “Tell me what you do to take care of your health.”
With that question, McClanahan said, people will tell you all you need to know. If your clients are overweight or they smoke, you can encourage them to get a little healthier before they start shopping for insurance and taking physicals. The cost-savings of doing so are “astronomical,” she said.
A basic health history includes the client’s body mass index, height, weight, smoking status, their exercise habits, whether they use drugs or alcohol, what medical problems they may have and their family history.
The health care mindset: figure out their attitude. Do they go to the doctor for everything? Do they go to the doctor only if they’re really sick? Figure these things out then figure out what it their projected cost of care will be over time based on these habits. Also encourage healthy clients to keep working.
Encourage all your clients, no matter their age, to have advanced directives. Simply having an advance directive can save your clients money. Have them map out their medical decisions now that they are healthy and ensure they have been shared with family members and health care professionals.
To see the slides from McClanahan’s FPA BE 2016 presentation, click here.
Journal of Financial Planning