How to Prepare for Your Retirement Health Care Needs

Think you’re putting away enough money to cover all of your retirement needs? What about when it comes to covering your health care?

A 65-year-old couple retiring in 2012 would need roughly $240,000 to cover all of their health care needs during retirement – a 4 percent jump from last year’s estimate of $230,000 – according to a recent study by financial-services company Fidelity . In fact, the study showed that health care will end up being many Americans’ largest retirement expense.

“Medical inflation is outpacing salary increases and cost of living adjustments for many people,” Brad Kimler, executive vice president of Fidelity’s Benefits Consulting business, noted in the study. “Until that situation changes, it is critical that individuals include health care costs in their retirement savings strategies today so they can be prepared to pay their medical bills throughout retirement.”

In short, the study shows that it’s not realistic for most Americans to count on relying solely on Social Security or other retirement benefits such as Medicare or pensions to fund health care costs.

We asked Philip Taylor, creator of the financial blog PT Money and the man behind the 2011 Financial Blogger Conference, how savers can prepare for such hefty health care costs.

“I always recommend maxing out tax-advantaged retirement savings accounts,” he tells us, “which typically include 401(k)s and IRAs. But in this case, one might look at the possibility of also using a Health Savings Account to save money toward some of these medical expenses. The rules are a bit complex but worth looking into for someone who expects medical expenses in retirement – which is most of us.”

Are you surprised by this estimate of how much you’ll need to put away to cover retirement health care? How do you save to prepare for your health care during retirement?

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