Fidelity estimates that a 65-year-old couple needs $220,000 for healthcare expenses in retirement, but the truth is that healthcare costs are tough to quantify because you never know what issues you may face.
Fortunately, there are things you can do before and during retirement to help reduce your healthcare expenses and make your golden years more enjoyable:
1. Get in shape. This may seem like a no-brainer, but employing a healthy diet and exercising regularly go a long way toward reducing your healthcare expenses during retirement. Get involved with group activities at your local YMCA or community center, and don’t be afraid to take up a new sport. You could also create a home workout plan and get more exercise from the comfort of your living room.
2. Keep stress low. Stay in touch with friends and family, maintain a good mental attitude, and join groups in which you’re interested. Consider taking up yoga or meditation, or find solace at a place of worship. Mend any personal relationships that need fixing to further reduce stress.
3. Use mail-order prescriptions when available. Picking up prescriptions from the drug store is convenient, but if you plan ahead you can save money by purchasing them through various mail order programs. (Check with your insurance provider for details.) Some companies even give you a reminder call when it’s time to reorder. Not only is this cheaper than going to your local store but it also saves time.
4. Question some medical tests. Don’t go against the advice of your doctor, but be aware that for liability purposes, some doctors may order tests or screenings that aren’t necessary. For example, if you have no family history of heart disease and are generally in good health, an annual EKG may not be needed. Also, according to the University of Texas, almost one-quarter of colonoscopies conducted on people 70 and older may be unnecessary.
5. Reconsider vitamin supplements. Some vitamin supplements may help you achieve optimum health, but others can be a waste of money. Supplements are often expensive, so do your own research and ask for your doctor’s opinion on which of them you might need.
6. Research Medicare supplement plans. Medicare covers a lot, but it doesn’t cover everything. Consider investing in a Medicare supplemental insurance plan, also known as Medigap. There are many options, and they are generally tailored to individual needs. Again, take the time and do the research to avoid getting a plan with coverage you don’t need.
The healthier you are, the longer your nest egg needs to last. During retirement, make it a point to manage your assets even better than you did when you were working. Talk to a financial planner about how to increase the longevity of your investments. If you’re still bringing in an income, devote a portion of it to savings to make sure you’re covered.
What other ways can you think of to reduce healthcare expenses in retirement?
David Bakke writes about money management topics including insurance, retirement, investing, and credit.