How to plan for healthcare costs during retirement

Senior couple with suitcases headed out on a trip.

Dreams and plans should go hand in hand to make the most of your post-working years

One of the most important aspects of a fulfilling retirement is good health. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most challenging things to control.

Remember the old adage, “hope for the best and plan for the worst.” We’re here to help you do just that.

Here are a few scenarios to get you thinking. Consider the following possibilities:

  • If you need knee replacement surgery, how will you pay for it?
  • What about hearing aids, or maintenance medications you may need to take indefinitely?
  • If you have a medical emergency while traveling across the country to see the grandkids—or around the world to see the sights—will you be covered?
  • What if you need long-term care? (More than half of all Americans aged 65 and up will need some type of long-term care.1)
  • Even something as simple as a toothache may mean a $1,000 root canal. Are you ready for that?

Getting nervous? Don’t!

The goal is not to scare you but to give you a few real-world issues to consider—issues that your Medicare choices can help you address. For you, the best choice may be Medicare Advantage and the security of a guaranteed maximum annual out-of-pocket cost. For others, it may be Original Medicare that travels with them as they hit the road for extended periods of time.

Everyone’s needs are different. And anyone's healthcare needs can change overnight or over time. Knowing how your Medicare options support your own particular needs will allow you to choose your plan with confidence.

What about Medicare?

Medicare and retirement are often linked together, and many people assume that Medicare will cover all their healthcare costs, particularly the long-term-care ones, in their retirement years.

Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. Understanding what Medicare covers is an important first step to developing a solid retirement plan.

Even if you have a combination of Medicare plus coverage through your work, or some other form of retiree health insurance and Medicare, it's important to be realistic about how prepared you'll be to pay for out-of-pocket healthcare costs. And your Medicare choices can help protect you as you go.

Your health needs can change overnight or over time, so keep healthcare costs in mind as you consider your retirement budget.

What if I want to retire before I’m eligible for Medicare?

How you'll pay for healthcare is one of the most important things to consider if you want to retire before you turn 65. Fortunately, there are a number of tools available that can help you do that.

For example, this healthcare in retirement costs calculator, opens new window includes both Medicare and financial planning tools that can give you a better picture of how your healthcare costs might stack up during retirement. For even more peace of mind, it's always worthwhile to consult a qualified financial advisor about your specific budget and needs.

If it all starts to feel a bit overwhelming, know that you’re not alone. In fact, 10,000 baby boomers are aging into Medicare each day. And that trend is expected to continue through 2030.2

So keep dreaming about and working toward a healthy retirement, but make sure you’re realistically planning for one as well.

Sources

  1. “Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Americans: Risks and Financing Research Brief,” Melissa Favreault, Judith Dey, U. S. Department of Health & Human Services, last accessed April 19, 2018, aspe.hhs.gov/basic-report/long-term-services-and-supports-older-americans-risks-and-financing-research-brief, opens new window
  2. “The Kaiser Foundation Annual Report on Medicare and What it Means for Advance Care Planning,” Kaiser Foundation, last accessed May 10, 2019, acpdecisions.org/kaiser-foundation-annual-report/, opens new window

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