Medical bills! Don’t forget to include them in your retirement planning


Retirement. It should be something that we look forward to, not having to work and having loads of leisure time.

To make sure you have accounted for the main expense items, make sure, you account for growing medical costs. As we age, we need to consult the doctor more and if you are not covered by Social Security, costs can spiral.

This is particularly apparent in the US system but also in the NHS, depending upon where you live. Many older people from the UK decide to move overseas to retire, to warmer and sunnier climates. But this can mean that they have to forego their use of the NHS medical system. In addition, depending on what health issue you are facing, NHS may put you on a very long waiting list and social security in the US might not even cover you.

How will your life change?

We also need to think about how long we may be making use of the medical system for. If you retire at age 65 and life expectancy is 90 years, multiply this by two people (husband and wife) and you have a large sum of money. If your work demands that you retire at a certain age (as with pilots) then you have no option but to move into retirement mode.

We all work extremely hard up until retirement age and no-one wants to be worse-off with regard to their standard of living in retirement. Take control of your retirement future if you don’t want to struggle or continually worry, by paying heed to medical bills is a must.

One good way of planning ahead is to think about how your life will change. Will your housing costs decrease as you downsize? If you are selling up and moving to another country, will you have a pot of money put aside to fund medical insurance?

Not mentally prepared

Healthcare can be a big expense. Research has shown that a 65 year old couple hitting retirement will need a sum of $285,000 to cover medical expenses. This is not taking into account long-term care which needs to be covered by alternative insurance. Many of us are not mentally or financially prepared to take on board these costs. HSA Bank carried out a survey of adults 65 years of age and over and 67% of them believed that they would need below $100,000 to cover healthcare.

Let’s take a look at a few figures. On average, people aged 65 years and over spend circa $3,800 per month with Social Security accounting for only 40% of their normally earned income. We also need to look at health status. The healthier you are going into retirement, the less money you need for medical bills. But the flip side is, the healthier you are the longer you live, so retirement will last longer. This is a great thing but you will need to budget for it.

Health insurance

Medicare covers some healthcare costs, but its range is limited. If you don’t have a Part D prescription drug policy, Medicare will not pay out. Original Medicare doesn’t cover dental or vision care and no part of Medicare covers the need for long-term residential care.

But there are other ways that retirees can cover medical bills and that is with health insurance. A Health Savings Account (HSA) can be used to cover Medicare premiums as well as long-term care insurance. If you are already in your fifties, you can pay catch-up contributions as well as employer contributions. Some employers will provide cash rewards into an HSA for preventive screenings, such as physicals or mammograms. As at 2019, the regular contribution limit is $3500 per person.

Paying for long-term insurance care is another way to go. This type of insurance provides a monthly benefit towards long-term care for 2-3 years. This can help avoid the need to sell off assets in order to qualify for Medicaid, which will cover long-term care.

Look at life insurance

If long-term care insurance looks unaffordable, then a life insurance policy may help if it enables you to add on provision for long-term care insurance. The earlier you take out a life insurance policy, the cheaper it will be.

Setting aside a sum of money for medical bills can take up a large part of your retirement budget. However, by taking heed of those costs now and putting together a strategy, you will have more money left in the future to pay for other things.

Possible options to save for retirement

Looking at different private savings plan solutions can help you put money away as a complimentary savings for circumstances such as medical bills. In retirement, the more retirement income you have the higher your quality of life. Stress-free from financial worries is our goal.

You have two types of plans:

  • Regular savings plan where you put a fixed sum of money aside (with the S&P 500 Index the minimum is $250 per month. Click here to find out more). You have many different option on the market.

  • Fixed lump sum plans. These plans where you earn interest income on your capital. This can be bonds, CDs and other fixed income products. The one we have is a 12-month plan that pays interest every quarter directly to your bank account - click here to find out more.


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