Coping with Rising Healthcare Costs in Retirement

In retirement, most people will likely have to pay more for healthcare than they anticipated. According to a recent report from Fidelity Investments, an average married couple retiring at age 65 will fork over more than $275,000 for lifetime medical costs (excluding long-term care). This number is much higher than the general inflation rate; it includes Medicare premiums, co-payments, deductibles and out-of-pocket drug expenses. And the number will be even higher if you retire early or have different coverage options than those offered by traditional Medicare.

These costs are particularly concerning because, unlike their parents’ generation, many younger workers won’t have access to employer- or union-sponsored retiree health benefits. That means that these costs will be the responsibility of the individual, and if you don’t plan accordingly, they could be financially devastating.

The good news is that it’s possible to save for these costs and reduce your exposure if you start planning sooner rather than later. A wealth advisor can help you determine how much you’ll need to save and create a realistic timeline for your savings goals. They can also explore ways to pay for healthcare in retirement that go beyond Social Security benefits, such as HSAs or long-term care insurance.

Health care expenses are one of the biggest worries for Americans as they approach retirement, but they’re also one of the most underestimated—even for those who are actively saving. That’s because healthcare costs tend to increase faster than other consumer goods, which is why RBC Read on Wealth Management uses a five percent inflation rate for its clients who are nearing or in retirement.

Another reason that healthcare costs are so much more than most people realize is that the typical person is living longer than ever before. And while we’re all looking forward to a well-deserved and relaxing retirement, that doesn’t mean we want to see our assets shrink due to increasing healthcare costs.

That’s why it’s important to separate predictable premium costs that you can budget for in your savings calculations from unpredictable out-of-pocket expenses. You’ll need to have enough money saved to cover the unpredictable expenses, and an adequate level of income from Social Security and other sources to cover the predictable ones. Your wealth advisor can help you understand the full cost of healthcare in retirement and work to minimize those expenses. To learn more, watch our video Coping with Rising Healthcare Costs in Retirement. And sign up for our weekly newsletter, Fidelity Viewpoints, for the latest insights on preparing for your financial future.