There's lots to be concerned about financially when it comes to retirement, including inflation, rising property taxes, and investments underperforming. But in a new Nationwide survey, 54% of future retirees aged 50 and over cite paying for healthcare as a major cause of retirement stress. If you share the same worry, here are a few critical steps to take sooner rather than later.
1. Boost your retirement savings
The more money you manage to sock away in an IRA or 401(k) plan, the easier it'll be to manage any retirement expenses that come your way, healthcare included. If you're 50 or older, you get an even greater opportunity to fund a retirement savings plan thanks to catch-up contributions. For IRAs, you get a $1,000 catch-up that raises your 2020 contribution limit to $7,000. If you have a 401(k), you get a $6,500 catch-up that brings your total allowable contribution to $26,000. But if you can't max out your catch-up contributions, do the best you can. Setting aside an extra $200 or $300 a year will help, too.
2. Ramp up your HSA contributions
If you're eligible to contribute to a health savings account (HSA), it pays to take advantage. The funds you contribute with pre-tax dollars don't expire, and if you invest them rather than use them for near-term medical expenses, you'll have a dedicated source of healthcare money to access in retirement.
HSA eligibility hinges on being on a high-deductible health insurance plan. In 2020, that means a deductible of $1,400 or more as an individual, or $2,800 or more as a family. Annual contribution limits in 2020, meanwhile, are $3,550 a year for individuals and $7,100 for families. And there's a catch-up provision for HSAs, too -- if you're 55 or older, you can contribute an additional $1,000 on top of the limit you qualify for. HSA funds can be withdrawn tax-free in retirement provided they're used for medical expenses, so the money you carry into your golden years could be yours free and clear.
3. Get educated on Medicare
Once you turn 65, you'll be eligible for health benefits under Medicare. But that could end up being a more expensive prospect than you think it will be. First of all, Medicare largely isn't free. Part A, which covers hospital care, doesn't generally charge enrollees a premium, but there is a monthly premium associated with Part B, which covers diagnostic and preventive care, as well as Part D, which covers prescriptions. If you choose Medicare Advantage as an alternative to original Medicare, you'll still need to pay your Part B premiums plus a premium for Advantage. And if you stick with original Medicare, you'll likely need supplemental insurance.
On top of all that, you'll be responsible for costs like deductibles, copays, and coinsurance. And you'll need to pay for expenses like dental and vision care yourself under original Medicare, since they're not included in its scope of coverage. The takeaway? Know what costs you're in for. The numbers may come as a shock at first, but once you know what to expect, you'll be in a better position to map out a plan for tackling your healthcare expenses.
Healthcare can be a major burden for retirees -- even those who enter their golden years reasonably healthy. If you're worried about paying for healthcare down the line, boost your retirement account contributions, take advantage of HSAs, and read up on how Medicare works and what it costs. Arming yourself with knowledge might ease your mind so you're able to worry less, and focus more on building savings.