By the time your 50s roll around, you may be ready to really focus on your retirement countdown and start firming up plans for your senior years. But as that milestone approaches, you may also encounter your share of financial concerns, ranging from not having enough money in savings to the impact of taxes.
But if there's one thing pre-retirees aged 50 and over are really worried about, it's healthcare costs, including long-term care. In fact, that's their top money-related concern going into retirement, according to a recent Edward Jones and Age Wave study. And when we dig into what those expenses might cost, it's easy to see why.
Healthcare is a whopper
You might think that once you get on Medicare, your healthcare costs will shrink. Well, think again.
Fidelity reports that the average male-female couple retiring this year will spend $300,000 on healthcare during retirement, and that figure doesn't include long-term care. When we break that down by gender, we see that men will spend an average of $143,000 on healthcare in retirement, while women, due to their longer lifespans, will spend $157,000.
Long-term care is even more outrageous
While healthcare could eat up a lot of your savings during retirement, long-term care could be downright catastrophic. The average annual cost for an assisted living facility is $51,600, according to Genworth's most recent cost-of-care study. For a nursing home, expect to spend an average of $93,075 a year for a shared room, and $105,850 for a private room.
It's worth noting that the cost of assisted living rose 6.15% between 2019 and 2020. Nursing-home care rose at a rate of 3.24% for shared rooms and 3.57% for private.
How to cover those costs
If paying for healthcare and long-term care is your primary financial concern, at least as far as your senior years go, then the good news is that there are strategies you can employ to cover those expenses.
First, if you're eligible to contribute to a health savings account, or HSA, then do your best to max one out. HSA contributions not only go in tax-free but also grow tax-free, and withdrawals are tax-free provided they're used to cover qualified medical expenses.
You can sign up for an HSA if you're enrolled in a high-deductible health insurance plan. If you're not, your next best bet is to just max out your regular retirement savings plan, whether it's an IRA or 401(k), so you can earmark some of those funds for future healthcare expenses.
Next, sign up for long-term care insurance. You'll spend some money on those premiums, but the cost may be more than worth it if you wind up needing something like nursing-home care for several years as a senior.
The ideal time to apply for long-term care is during your mid-50s. That way, you're not paying your premiums for too long, but you're also young enough to snag an affordable premium rate based on your health and age.
Take charge of your future costs
There's no getting around paying for healthcare in retirement, and the reality is that the majority of seniors wind up needing some type of long-term care in their lifetime. Your best bet is to read up on what those expenses might entail and take steps to ensure that you've got them covered. Doing so could help you breathe easier as your senior years approach.
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