Women generally have a long list of to-dos that can feel never-ending. More often than not, last on the list is “take care of myself.” The repercussions of that oversight can be damaging when it comes time to retire.
How much should the average American woman expect to spend on healthcare expenses in her retirement? The answer is more than you think. The average 65-year-old couple will spend $315,000 on healthcare expenses alone. According to recent data, women’s healthcare premiums alone are now estimated to be $200,000 more than her male partner during retirement.
The following are three common healthcare-based pitfalls women face when it comes to saving for retirement – and a few tips about how to avoid them:
Women live longer on average than men but have smaller retirement funds. The fact of the matter is that women live longer. The Society of Actuaries reports that half of all married women will outlive their spouse by 15 years.
Yet, a longer life doesn’t necessarily mean a more prepared life. Many times, women enter retirement with a smaller nest egg than men. They are typically out of the workforce longer acting as a caregiver for children, grandchildren, or aging parents. Those responsibilities can set women back when it comes to career advancement and retirement plan contributions. Women are also saving for retirement on a smaller income overall. A study shows that women make less money throughout their careers due to a gender wage gap that broadly remains at 82 cents for every $1 a man earns, while for certain occupations, such as waiters and waitresses, the pay gap is much greater, at 76 cents.
The risk of having your money die before you do is high, that’s why saving must start now. You can create a plan that will address your current and future expenses.
You must start to plan early, because even with Medicare, healthcare costs are likely to be much higher than you thought when you add up the cost of premiums (which are usually deducted from your Social Security check), co-pays, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses. By saving and planning now, you can make up for any healthcare budget gaps in your current retirement plan.
Women are at a greater risk for long-term care expenses. Longevity also means that we are more likely to live alone in later years with no one in the household to help with daily tasks. The statistics are striking. Seventy percent of nursing home residents are female and Medicare does not cover the cost of this type of custodial care, according to an AARP report. Expect to shell out thousands on premiums and out-of-pocket expenses on long-term care that is not covered by Medicare or private insurance as a retiree, or else be forced to spend-down your assets in order to qualify for Medicaid.
To curb the costs, consider advance care planning and participate in healthcare-related conversations with your family to address concerns before a crisis hits. Speak with loved ones about your wishes and complete any legal documents – Advance Directives, Living Will, Durable Power of Attorney – just to name a few. Think about appointing a healthcare proxy or decision maker while you’re still mentally competent. Depending on your health, you might want to look into hybrid long-term care insurance, which covers care if you need it, and provides other benefits if you don’t.
Healthcare costs continue to rise. The price to treat ailments as well as the cost of insurance and medicine has risen dramatically. Baby boomers will feel it the most as they begin to enter their senior years. There’s an expected 6.5 percent increase in healthcare costs in 2022, according to a study from PricewaterhouseCooper’s Health Research Institute. The good news is that this rate is down slightly from 2021, but with an additional focus on the aftereffects of the pandemic, long-term healthcare spending will continue to be subject to inflation for years to come.
Take a look at your existing insurance policy coverages and determine if they will accommodate your needs years down the road. If they don’t, take a look at other plans and options as soon as possible, while you are healthy. This might be a daunting task but it’s necessary to consider if you hope to be prepared for retirement. Finally, I encourage you to work with a professional who can help you plan a healthy, well-balanced retirement and face this new phase of life with confidence.
Obstacles can be overcome and you might even be better for it in the end. These healthcare pitfalls sound daunting at first, but as I mentioned before, the good thing is you can be prepared for the road ahead. With a little foresight, planning, and some life advice from a financial advisor, retirement should be less scary and a little more comfortable.
If you have any questions planning for healthcare expenses in retirement, call Lisa D. Jones at 417.447.3500.