What is healthspan?

2 min read
11 April, 2024

When Kiwis create a financial plan for retirement many will consider how long they may live, or in other words, their lifespan. But very few people think about something that’s just as important, healthspan. 

This term refers to the period of your life during which you’re in good health.

Keeping this period in mind, as well as your lifespan, can help you create a more robust, realistic financial plan that can help to provide certainty and security no matter what happens. 

Kiwis are living longer in poor health

New Zealanders are lucky enough to frequently live to a ripe old age. Our average life expectancy is 82.3 years, according to the OECD. However, the McKinsey Health Institute highlights that, on average,
people spend about 50% of their lives in less than good health including 12% in poor health. The best available data suggests that this ratio has not changed much in the past 50 years.

When our healthspan ends and wellbeing declines, Kiwis may need additional medical treatment and support - which can be costly. 

Why healthspan matters for financial planning & retirement


When planning for retirement it’s important to consider all variables to ensure that you’ll be comfortable once you can no longer work.

Healthspan is one of those variables. To consider your potential healthspan when planning for retirement you should think about:

  • Whether you have the correct level of insurance to protect your income and provide for your family if ill health interrupts your working life.
  • Whether you have the appropriate health insurance cover to ensure you can get the best access to treatment if your health does worsen.
  • The potential costs of additional care needed later in life, if your health were to worsen. 

The average effective age of retirement in New Zealand is 69.8 years for men and 66.4 years for women, the OECD says. That means that the average man’s working life is longer than their average healthy years (and women aren’t far behind).

If you want to enjoy an active, comfortable retirement this fact is worth considering. You may want to retire earlier (if possible) to increase the chances that you can enjoy your years after work in good health. 

Planning for retirement 

When planning for retirement, healthspan is just one of several variables you should consider. If you’re unsure how to start planning it’s a great idea to speak to a registered financial adviser.

They’ll help you plan for every eventuality so that you can enjoy a comfortable and dignified retirement - as every person deserves. 



This ‘What is healthspan?’ blog is general information only. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the FSC. It is not intended to constitute legal or financial advice and does not take your individual circumstances and financial situation into account. We encourage you to seek assistance from a trusted registered financial adviser, legal or other professional advice.


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April 2024. 

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