There are some great advertisements that show you retirees traveling, gardening and enjoying their hard-earned reprieve from the workforce. It gives a great glimpse of how good retirement can be, giving folks something to strive for. However, it’s not the only reflection of retirement. Sometimes there are valleys to go along with those peaks, and one of the most distinct valleys that are experienced in retirement is mounting health care costs.
The financial weight of health care can start off with small steps, or small pills to be precise. Nine out of ten people 65 and older have commented that they have taken at least one prescription drug within the last 30 days.1 As health issues progress, so can treatments, with some people having multiple medications and continuous appointments, not all being covered by private health insurance. According to an annual estimate conducted by Fidelity, the average retiring couple “will need $280,000 to cover health care and medical costs”.2 While many expect to rely on Medicare for their health care costs, the program is not comprehensive. Fidelity’s figure includes deductibles, cost-sharing requirements for certain medications, as well as services and devices that Medicare doesn’t cover, like hearing aids. For the unprepared, these figures can be staggering.
Those who are unprepared can, unfortunately, find themselves sliding into practices where they are not taking care of themselves in retirement. According to the 2018 Economic Well-Being Report, a quarter of adults went without needed medical care because they were unable to afford the cost.3 Those who do go in for medical care can be overwhelmed by mounting medical costs. According to a study done by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, “43 million Americans owe a medical debt.”4 Stress-induced by medical issues combined with stress over mounting medical costs is not what people expect to experience in their retirement.
The key to good retirement planning isn’t to plan to maintain your current lifestyle. It is to plan for possibilities and scenarios that may not seem likely today, but that statistics show could impact your tomorrow. While these statistics can be very overwhelming, if you start saving early and work with a trusted financial professional, you can be fully prepared to enjoy your retirement. In the end, you need your finances to be in good health for those moments when your body can’t be.