Anyone planning to retire had better be aware of projected figures for health care costs.
They’re still on the rise and are eating up more of Social Security than ever—and taking a higher toll on women, whose lifetime costs are expected to be substantially higher than for men because of longer life expectancy.
That’s according to a new report from HealthView Services, which projects that lifetime retirement health care premiums for Medicare Parts B, D, supplemental and dental insurance for an average 65-year-old couple retiring this year will total $321,994 in today’s dollars. Once you add in deductibles, copays, hearing, vision and dental out-of-pocket costs, you can up that to $404,253.
Not in sticker shock yet? Just wait. HealthView projects the annual retirement health care inflation rate at an average of 5.47 percent—for the foreseeable future.
That’s nearly triple the U.S. inflation rate between 2012–2016 of 1.9 percent, and more than double the expectation for projected Social Security cost-of-living adjustments of 2.6 percent. Those poor Social Security recipients don’t stand a chance.
In 2016, HealthView points out, Medicare Part B premiums rose by 16 percent. The Medicare Board of Trustees had originally projected a 24 percent decrease for Part B in 2017, but that didn’t happen; instead, premiums rose by 10 percent.
Part D, for its part, grew by 8 percent between 2016 and 2017, and is expected to continue to increase at a comparable rate.
If you add age-related increases on top of basic inflation, supplemental insurance costs are projected to increase at an annual rate of 7.12 percent, driving annual out-of-pocket costs even higher for older retirees.
Now, about those Social Security COLAs in the future: the HealthView Services Retirement Health Care Cost Index shows that a 66-year-old couple retiring this year will require 59 percent of their Social Security benefits to cover total lifetime retirement health care costs.
That doesn’t leave much for food, housing or, indeed, much of anything else. And a 55-year-old couple retiring at 66 will need 92 percent of their Social Security benefits, while a 45-year-old couple will need 122 percent to cover health care.
Regarding the plight of retiring women, they face higher lifetime health care costs than men because they are projected to live two years longer.
Married women, who are on average two years younger than their spouses, could outlive their spouses by four years. So a 63-year-old married woman retiring at 65 can expect to pay 29.9 percent more in future dollars for total lifetime health care costs than her 65-year-old husband retiring this year.
And if you think it might get less expensive as people approach the end of life, think again. A healthy 55-year-old man will need an extra $7,123, and a female $7,681, for copays and additional expenses from end-of-life care in the final two years of life. These figures, the report says, are in future dollars and do not include long-term care costs.
That’s not to say that steps can’t be taken to lower at least some of those expenses. The report finds that a 50-year-old male diagnosed with type 2 diabetes but who makes lifestyle changes and follows medical instructions to manage the condition can increase actuarial longevity by eight years, save an average of $5,000 in out-of-pocket costs annually before retirement at age 65 and reduce in-retirement health care expenses by an average of $2,775 annually.
Investing those savings to provide a 6 percent return would amount to $120,000 at age 65, giving that retiree access to an additional $16,974 in disposable annual income until age 80.
And if a 55-year-old, according to Ron Mastrogiovanni, CEO of HealthView Services, can increase 401(k) contributions by $17 per paycheck to address retirement health care premiums, assuming a company match of 50 percent, they’ll meet an 85 percent income replacement ratio savings goal.