How much do you figure you’ll pay for health care expenses after you retire? You’re probably underestimating.
A married couple, both age 65, will fork over an estimated $275,000 over their lifetime on medical costs, according to Fidelity Investment’s “2017 Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate.” That includes Medicare premiums, co-payments, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses for prescription drugs.
However, it’s likely that this same couple will pay a lot more than $275,000 because Fidelity’s estimate doesn’t include items such eye exams and glasses, hearing aids, dental care and long-term care. And if you retire before age 65, the number will be significantly higher.
Medical expenses represent one item in retirees’ budgets that can increase significantly when transitioning from your career job into retirement. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers on average subsidize 80 percent of the cost of health care premiums for their active employees and more than two-thirds of the costs for family coverage.
But these subsidies typically go away when you retire. As a result, you’ll usually end up paying for the full cost of medical insurance premiums if you retire before age 65, when you’re eligible for Medicare. After that, the federal government subsidizes about three-fourths of the cost of Medicare Part B, although you’ll still pay substantial deductibles and co-payments.
One erroneous conclusion that some people might make after reading about the Fidelity study’s results is that they need to have the full $275,000 amount set aside when they retire, to be dedicated exclusively to future medical expenses. While that might be great if you can swing it, most people don’t have that luxury, and fortunately you don’t need to do that.
You can pay for much of your medical costs with your regular retirement income, such as your Social Security benefits, employer pensions if you have one, money you make working in retirement and your withdrawals from savings.