The cost of health care in retirement dropped slightly in 2013, according to a recent survey by Fidelity Investments. The price tag is still hefty though, with the average couple needing $220,000 socked away to stay healthy in their golden years, an 8 percent drop from last year. The change likely offers little solace to retirees who are on a shoestring budget and living check to check.
"While lower, this year's estimate is still daunting for many retirees, and it will consume a considerable amount of a couple's retirement savings," Brad Kimler, executive vice president of Fidelity's benefits consulting business, said in a post on Fidelity.com. "It is extremely important that health care costs are factored into retirement savings strategies today so that retirees can be prepared to pay their medical bills throughout retirement."
Fidelity believes that the drop was thanks, in part, to lower-than-expected Medicare spending per enrollee the past few years, along with reductions in projected Medicare spending down the line. Smaller increases to provider payments and the economic downturn likely played a part in the spell of decreased Medicare spending.
Even though Medicare expenditures declined per enrollee, Fidelity notes, increases in aggregate spending for the federal program have grown at a faster rate, and will continue to do so as baby boomers reach retirement age in droves.
Here are a couple of other highlights from the survey:
- A recent poll by Fidelity found that 48 percent of preretirees ages 55 to 64 think that they only need $50,000 to pay for health care after they retire.
- Only about 28 percent of firms with 200 or more employees offer retirement coverage to their employees, and only 3 percent of smaller firms do the same.
- Spending on prescriptions has skyrocketed over the last decade, jumping by 114 percent between 2000 and 2010. However, prescriptions account for a small portion of retirees' health care costs, at about 10 percent of the pie.
- Fidelity's estimate is based on an average couple retiring in 2013, with a male age 82 and a female age 85, and the numbers increase significantly for those who live longer. For instance, a couple retiring with a 92-year-old husband and a 94-year-old wife would need $355,000 to cover health care costs in retirement, according to the survey.