Once you turn 65 you are eligible to enroll in the Medicare health insurance system. It is fantastic program that charges a relatively small premium for broad services. But it is a serious mistake to think that all you need to do is make it to 65 and you’re set.
No. No. No. Medicare covers a lot, but not everything. Typically, you will need to pay for about 30 percent of your health care costs in retirement out of your own pocket. And that adds up. Fidelity estimates that a 65-year-old couple retiring this year will need $280,000 to pay for Medicare premiums, copays and other out of pocket expenses. For single men the estimated cost is $133,000. Women, because of our longer life expectancy will need an estimated $147,000.
And that’s not really as bad as it can get. Fidelity does not factor in the potential cost of long-term care needs. If at any point you need nursing home care, or assistance in your home, your costs are going to be a lot higher.
When I am cheering you on to save for retirement, a big reason is that I want you to land in retirement with enough money to not only enjoy your life, but to be able to take care of yourself!
If those retirement health care estimates just made you a little, well, sick, I want you to take a deep breath and stand in your truth. Whether you are 30 or 55 there is a lot you can do.
• Cut your spending ASAP so you can save more. Don’t tell me, or yourself that you don’t have another $100 or $200 a month to set aside for retirement. Make it a priority, and you will find the way to come up with that money.
• Plan on working until age 70. The Fidelity report assumes you will stop working at age 65. If you can keep working until age 70 that will bring in more income for a few more years; the less you need to tap from your retirement savings in your 60s, the more you will have for future health care expenses.
• Get the most from Social Security. If you wait until age 70 to begin taking Social Security retirement benefits your monthly check will be 76 percent more than what you would be entitled to at age 62. Waiting buys you a ton more eventual income. If you indeed live a long life, that is income that is going to be very valuable.