Couples expecting to retire this year can expect to spend nearly a quarter of a million dollars in out-of-pocket health care costs throughout their retirement.
The exact estimate, $245,000, is up from the $220,000 estimated in total costs last year, according to Fidelity’s Benefits Consulting Group.
This year’s estimate represents a 29 percent increase from 2005, when Fidelity estimated retirement health care costs to be $190,000 per retiring couple.
In 2010, Fidelity’s cost estimate hit $250,000. A company release suggested increasing life expectancies in part explain this year’s estimate increase, but it did not elaborate on why estimates peaked in 2010.
Projected costs are run on a hypothetical couple, both aged 65, with a life expectancy of 85 for the male and 87 for the female, reflecting higher mortality rates released last year by the Society of Actuaries.
The estimate presumes couples don’t have employer-provided retiree care and that they qualify for Medicare.
Deductibles and co-pays associated with Medicare Part A, which covers inpatient expenses, Medicare Part B, which covers outpatient costs, and Medicare Part D, which covers prescription drug costs are the core expenses in the estimate, which doesn’t include long-term care costs such as nursing home expenses that would undoubtedly drive cost projections higher.
In July, the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services projected Medicare spending per enrollee to grow 1 percent in 2015, or slightly higher than the overall rate of inflation in the economy.
If the projection holds true, it would be the sixth consecutive year Medicare inflation has been line with the overall inflation, a stark contrast to the previous decade.
In 2001, Medicare inflation was more than 9 percent, while overall inflation was just over 2 percent.
For this year’s projection, Fidelity assumed a 4 to 5 percent annual rise in health care costs going forward.
Brad Kimler, executive vice president of Fidelity’s Benefits Consulting Services, hopes retirement savers take note of the projected increase in costs.
“The sticker shock of $245,000 hopefully reinforces for many people that they need to act now, regardless of age,” said Kimler.
Fidelity’s projections echo other industry analyses. Last year, a white paper from HealthView Services, a Massachusetts-based consultancy that markets a health care cost modeling tool for retirement advisors, showed Medicare only covers about half of baby boomers’ health care costs in retirement.
The paper also projected premium costs for a hypothetical couple, aged 55 and living in Massachusetts (premiums vary by state).
When the couple retires at 65 and assuming they buy into Medicare Part B and D coverage and Medigap coverage, their annual premium will be $22,981 by 2034, when the couple is 75, and increased to $46,568 in 2044, when they are 85.
Wealthier retirees are expected to see a significant jump in Medicare Part B coverage in 2016.
About 7 million retirees, or three out of 10 beneficiaries, could see Part B premiums rise to over $1,000 a month per couple.
Most beneficiaries won’t see a rise in premiums, thanks to the so-called “hold harmless” provision in Social Security law, which says Medicare premiums won’t go up if there is no cost of living adjustment in Social Security, which there is not projected to be for 2016.