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Handling Healthcare Costs in Retirement

One of the biggest expenses retirees will face is the cost of healthcare. When people save for retirement, the cost of healthcare is not something they immediately consider. As people age and health problems arise more often than when they were younger, the cost of healthcare increases. Unfortunately, these medical bills often lead to large amounts of consumer debt. Here is some information you should know about handling healthcare costs in retirement.

ACCC has the facts on healthcare costs in retirement.

ACCC has the facts on healthcare costs in retirement.

Healthcare Costs in Retirement – How Much Will You Spend? 

How much money do you estimate you’ll spend on healthcare costs in retirement? According to Fidelity, the average couple can expect to pay roughly $285,000 in healthcare costs. That doesn’t even include the cost of long-term care, such as nursing homes, which can cost upwards of $6,000 per month. These are not small numbers! Some people assume Medicare will cover a majority of the costs, but that is not necessarily the case. Our credit counseling advice is to review the plans.

Medicare Plans

Medicare has Parts A, B, C and D. This may sound complicated, but here is a brief overview of the different Medicare plans:

  • Part A: This covers your hospital stays. It covers 80% of inpatient costs for the first 60 days you are hospitalized. For longer stays, you will have to pay more. There is no monthly premium for Part A.
  • Part B: Part B covers a portion of your medical expenses, such as doctor’s visits, outpatient services, mental health services, and ambulances. Part B requires you to pay a premium.
  • Medicare Advantage/Part C: For this plan, you must sign up through your private health insurance company. Part C has additional coverage not offered by Original Medicare, such as vision and dental insurance.
  • Part D: Part D helps consumers pay for prescription medications. For Part D, you will have to pay a monthly premium.

It’s important to note that retirees that only have the basic Medicare Part A (the plan with no monthly premium) will not be covered for any other expenses besides hospital stays and nursing care. Prescriptions, doctor fees, surgeries, etc. are not covered by Part A. You will need supplemental insurance or you will need to enroll in Parts B, C, and D for full coverage. 

Health Savings Account (HSA)

HSAs are tax-advantaged savings accounts that help pay for qualified medical expenses. These can help you cover any exorbitant healthcare costs you may encounter in retirement. Qualified medical expenses include dental treatment, doctor’s visits, co-pays, surgery, eye exams, flu shots, physical therapy, and prescriptions. You are not taxed when you put money into an HSA, nor are you taxed when you take it out to pay for medical expenses. The growth in the account is also tax-free!

Keep in mind that in order to have an HSA, you must be enrolled in a high-deductible health insurance plan. If you open one while you are still young, you can make contributions as you would to an IRA or other retirement plan and watch the money grow. This is essentially a tax-advantaged emergency fund for when you retire!

Final Thoughts

Even though retirement may be years away for you, it’s best to think ahead. You don’t want to reach retirement age, only to realize you are having health issues and you cannot afford the costs. Start saving now to ensure you’re financially prepared for all that retirement may bring!

If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today. 


Madison is a Marketing Communications & Programs Associate at ACCC. She is excited to share her tips on saving money and being financially responsible here on the Talking Cents blog!

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