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Retirement Realities: Health Care Costs

BOSTON (CBS) - Too many retirees assume once they are eligible for Medicare their health care costs will disappear. Not so!

According to the latest retiree health care cost estimate from Fidelity, a 65-year-old couple retiring in last year will need on average of $260,000 in today's dollars to cover medical expenses throughout their retirement. An increase of $15,000 from the previous year.

Couples who opt to retire early at age 62 instead of 65 will need to budget an estimated annual cost of $17,000 for health care which would include health insurance for those three years before they are eligible for Medicare.

So when you start your planning be sure to include the cost of out of pocket health care in your retirement budget. These would be your insurance premiums for Medicare part B & D, your Medigap insurance, co-pays, deductibles and procedures and care that may not be covered such as a chiropractor or acupuncture.

According to Age Wave, a think tank on aging, retirees worry about the prospect of serious health problems and being a burden to one's family.

Having saved enough money and good health insurance will definitely help but some health problems can't be fixed with money.

According to Ken Dychtwald of Age Wave, a health problem is a triple whammy. First, it's unpredictable. No one knows exactly when they might become ill, how bad the problem will be, or how long it might last.

Second, health disruptions can be very expensive. You might be forced to miss work, or you might need long-term care or be challenged by other health-related costs.

And third, illness turns out to be the number one reason that people retire earlier than they planned. In the survey, they asked retirees whether they had retired on schedule, later than they had planned, or earlier than they had planned. Almost 60% of today's retirees say they retired earlier than they expected.

Unanticipated medical expenses can derail years of retirement preparation. Sixty percent of bankruptcies in the U.S. today are related to medical bills, and retirees who are struggling with health issues are twice as likely to say they are in a financial crisis.


You can hear Dee Lee's expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.

Subscribe to Dee's Money Matters newsletter here.

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