“When did retirement become a dirty word?” he says.
Hurley, of in San Francisco, was stunned at the reaction of his friends and colleagues when he said he was retiring from a biotech health care company, after 40 years in the workplace.
“I was expecting congratulations, best wishes and even some jealousy on my happy news,” he wrote. “Finally, at age 62 I would have all the time in the world to do whatever I wanted. Pursue new interests, rediscover neglected passions, create interesting experiences. No more meetings, deadlines, office politics. After all, if you could stop working tomorrow, wouldn’t you want to?”
Instead, his friends were surprised and disappointed that he no longer wanted to work. They even sent him news stories about how it was a big mistake to retire. Hurley isn’t buying any of it.
“I will appreciate my good fortune at being retired and have no regrets about leaving the workforce,” he said. “I’ve had a fine and rewarding career, and now it’s time to move on. I’m growing a David Letterman retirement beard. I’m joining the ranks of fellow 2016 retirees Kobe Bryant, Peyton Manning, Tim Duncan, Alex Rodriguez and President Obama. Death won’t be my retirement. I’m getting out while I’m still healthy and able to do new things. I’m done and have no shame so please stop telling me I shouldn’t retire.”
What prompted him to write the story in the first place?
“The anti-retirement sentiment I’ve been reading and hearing about over the past year,” he said in an interview. “It seems many people really are opposed to the idea of retirement, which I found shocking and kind of odd. Ernest Hemingway has that famous quote: “Retirement is the ugliest word in the language” and I guess he never did. Also, friends and co-workers seemed disappointed when I told them I no longer wanted to work. Retirement is something I always looked forward to so I wanted to express the pro-retirement point of view. I must say, the feedback to the story has been very positive which is reassuring to me.”
His wife was “ecstatic” and his two adult children were supportive, he says. The reaction from his siblings, however, was mixed.
“A common question was what are you going to do all day?” he said. “I think some people perceive retirement as generally not having much to do since you are no longer in the workforce. I see it as just the opposite. The possibilities are endless and I plan to be grateful for every moment, every day. I will approach this next phase of my life with wonder, enthusiasm and openness.”
Question of the week: Would you retire at 60, or would you keep working? Why? Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city and state. In the subject line put “To retire or not”
Last week’s question: Are you making provisions for health care costs in your retirement?
Richard Watt of New Rochelle, N.Y.:
Yes I am worried, even though right now my wife and I are well covered. We have Medicare and a top tier supplemental plan through AARP (i.e. United Health Care). However, the costs for that plan, right now $541 a month, keep going up, and my wife just retired. So it looks as if we shall have to make some changes soon.
Alan Reese of Seattle:
Long-term, everyone is, or should be, worried about health care costs. As long as these costs grow faster than overall inflation they will gradually consume all other expenses. It seems to me that the Affordable Care Act, Obama Care, worked on the wrong problem. It focused on medical insurance when the focus should have been on medical costs. Fixing this problem doesn’t require inventing something new. We can just copy other countries that have better health care, provide coverage for everyone, and pay half as much, per capita, as we pay now. We are in a political season and there is lots of talk about immigration, temperament and trustworthiness. But everyone worries about the health care costs and it isn’t mentioned.
When you mentioned long term care insurance you failed to mention how much rates have increased and how unreliable it is. At 71, we’re not yet finding health care to be a burden. And that’s with stents, a pacemaker, etc. Please don’t encourage your readers to underestimate what Medicare does cover. Now the drug wars are a battle that we lose daily.
Max Handelsman of Olney, Md.:
I’m not worried. I plan on paying for good health care coverage in retirement. More importantly, my company offered us long-term care insurance years ago, and I decided to take them up on it, even though I had just turned 30. Because I started so early I pay less than $20 a month, and that’s even after paying a little extra for the “inflation protection” of 5% per year, which has now more than doubled the benefit to over $8K per month. By the time I retire, it’ll reach $22K per month! Sure, I could have put that $20 in a separate account and saved it, but at 2% interest I would only have $4K now. (Interest calculators are such a help when making these decisions!) And yes, it has occurred to me that $22K won’t be worth nearly that much in 20 years, but then again, as long as inflation averages less than 5% I’ll actually wind up ahead.
Mary Janowiak and David Lubin of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico:
It’s a shame when U.S. citizens need leave the country to escape steep health care costs. But, that’s exactly what we did. At ages 59 and 57, my husband and I had enough assets to retire if (and that’s a big if), we could find a way to bring these costs down.
What to do? We moved to Mexico where excellent health care can be had for a fraction of the cost we paid in Texas. Most costs, including prescription drugs, are low enough to pay easily out of pocket. However, we do have an insurance policy with a $2,500 deductible that costs $2,200 USD per year for BOTH of us. It’s good everywhere in the world EXCEPT the US, for obvious reasons.
A few examples–our Stanford educated general doctor charges about $28 for an office visit and $39 to come to our home. I saw renowned dermatologist who did a full body exam and removed two suspicious spots for $83. A visit to a well respected orthopedic surgeon (including X-rays) was $60. My blood pressure meds cost me about $15 per month. Excellent in home care can be found for next to nothing.
By not having to worry about health care expenses, we can afford to travel and live a full and interesting life. Why would we go back?
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Write Brooks at The Washington Post, 1301 K St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20071, or email@example.com. On Twitter @Perfiguy. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read more, go to washingtonpost.com/business