top of page
  • Writer's pictureJohn J. Diak, CFP®

How to Prepare for Growing Healthcare Costs in Retirement

How to Prepare for Growing Healthcare Costs in Retirement

Planning for a rewarding retirement is an exciting goal, though it comes with its set of challenges. Increasingly, people wonder if they can secure the retirement lifestyle they once envisioned, particularly with the rise of healthcare expenses. These expenses, while significant, don't have to be a roadblock to your dreams. With diligent planning and strategic foresight, navigating these financial challenges becomes manageable, allowing you to look forward to retirement with confidence and optimism.


Preparing for healthcare costs in retirement means being fully aware—knowing exactly what you’ll be responsible for, what your options are, what to look out for, and what part you can plan in mitigating expenses. 


Here's what you should keep in mind.


Understanding Healthcare Costs

Healthcare expenses are climbing for everyone, a trend that doesn’t exclude retirees. Without the cushion of an employer’s healthcare plan and often working with a fixed income, these costs can pose a considerable financial challenge. That’s why it’s important to learn as much as you can about healthcare costs in retirement as soon as you can.


While it’s impossible to know every healthcare expense you’ll encounter in the future, gathering information early on aids in estimating and preparing for expected costs. Fortunately, as a taxpayer, you pay into retirement benefits to gain access to insurance through Medicare. Looking into the Medicare program will offer insights that allow you to estimate healthcare costs, including the costs of Medicare premiums, deductibles, co-payments, and other out-of-pocket expenses.


For an accurate estimation of these expenses, start with the basics available on Medicare.gov.


Next, consider your routine healthcare activity, existing medical conditions, and issues likely to develop. For instance, if arthritis is a part of your health landscape, considering the possibility of joint replacement surgery might be wise. While it's challenging to predict every health issue you and your spouse might have, adopting a realistic outlook to prepare for potential issues is essential.


Once you have a better idea of Medicare's baseline costs, you might find that basic coverage doesn't meet all your needs. In that case, you can explore options for supplemental health insurance or Medicare Advantage plans. 


Factoring in Healthcare Inflation

Healthcare inflation is worth closely monitoring as you approach retirement, especially since healthcare costs typically increase more rapidly than consumer goods. 


It's worth noting that healthcare inflation tends to impact individuals with private insurance more significantly than those enrolled in public healthcare programs. Thus, retirees utilizing Medicare often face less strain from healthcare inflation than those with private coverage, but that doesn’t mean this is an issue you can ignore. 


The key is to recognize that healthcare inflation could impact your retirement savings. Incorporating this consideration into your financial planning and using historical data can help you make educated guesses about potential future increases. [1]


Considering Long-Term Care (LTC) Needs

Accounting for long-term care is an essential component of healthcare planning in retirement, given its substantial cost. According to the Administration of Community Living, a person turning 65 today has a nearly 70% chance of needing some form of long-term care in their lifetime. [2]


The costs are considerable, whether it's in-home health services, assisted living, a memory care unit, or a nursing facility. In 2023, the median monthly cost of LTC ranged from $2,058 for an adult daycare facility to $9,733 for a private room in a nursing home. [3]


Options to proactively address the financial challenges of long-term care include purchasing long-term care insurance or investigating alternative financial strategies to cover your needs. Paying out of pocket, getting a reverse mortgage, investing in an annuity, or utilizing certain life insurance policies could be the answer. 


Enrolling in Medicare 

The good news is Medicare offers healthcare coverage that meets the needs of many retirees. If you’ve planned and saved well for retirement and are fortunate enough to avoid major medical issues, affording healthcare may never become a pressing issue. However, it's important to note that Medicare enrollment is mandatory; you're required to sign up and contribute to Medicare, regardless of any private insurance coverage or personal financial resources available for healthcare costs.


To navigate Medicare successfully and make informed decisions, it's advisable to familiarize yourself with its different components well in advance of your enrollment period, which begins three months before your 64th birthday.


Medicare Part A, sometimes referred to as hospital insurance, covers inpatient hospital stays, some home health care, skilled nursing facility care, and hospice care. Most individuals or their spouses who have paid Medicare taxes during their working years qualify for Part A without a monthly premium.


Medicare Part B, known as medical insurance, includes coverage for some outpatient care, doctor's services, preventive services, and medical supplies. The monthly premium for Part B is determined by your income from two years prior and is set at a standard and reasonable rate.


Medicare Part D is coverage that helps with the costs of prescription drugs as well as recommended shots, such as the flu shot, and vaccines. The monthly cost varies by plan and income level, but these expenses are generally modest.


Medicare Part C, also known as a Medicare Advantage Plan (MA Plan), is an option that’s approved by Medicare but offered by private insurance companies. It’s an alternative to A and B and provides coverage for what’s included in A and B as well as additional types of coverage, such as dental, vision, hearing, and wellness programs. Your out-of-pocket costs will depend on the specifics of the plan you choose.


Prioritizing Your Health and Wellness

Many health issues often come with aging, and therefore, healthcare expenses often increase with aging. But developing progressively worse health problems and the higher costs that go along with them isn’t necessarily inevitable. 


Managing your health wisely plays an important role in reducing your healthcare costs and overall retirement expenses. Regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and preventative healthcare measures can go a long way in lowering your healthcare expenses while improving your quality of life.


Preparing for the Future

As healthcare costs continue to grow, preparing adequately and carefully for these expenses in retirement is essential. By implementing a plan that includes saving diligently, exploring insurance options, considering alternative funding options, and prioritizing your health and wellness, you can reduce the effects that healthcare costs have on your financial well-being in your later years. 


While navigating the complexities of increasing healthcare costs may seem overwhelming, you don't have to do it alone. With strategic planning and the right support from a financial advisor like Oatley & Diak, LLC, the journey toward a financially stable retirement can become smoother and more manageable.


Sources:



John J. Diak, CFP® is the Principal & Client Wealth Manager at Oatley & Diak, LLC in Parker, Colorado. He assists clients through many difficult lifestyle changes such as business downturns, retirement planning, divorce, the death of a spouse, and family estate issues among others. Oatley & Diak, LLC is a family-run registered investment advisory (RIA) firm that provides clients with investment management and financial planning services in a hands-on, intimate environment. Learn more about them at oatleydiak.com.


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.


This material was prepared by Crystal Marketing Solutions, LLC, and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate and is intended merely for educational purposes, not as advice.

Comments


bottom of page