The cost of health care is climbing rapidly for retired Americans.
A new estimate from Fidelity Investment released on Monday shows the average 65-year-old couple retiring this year can expect to spend an average of $315,000 in health care and other related medical expenses during their retirement. That's a sharp increase from last year, when Fidelity projected that most retired couples would spend up an average of $300,000.
Much of the increase this year stems from steeper Medicare Part B premiums for Americans age 65 and older. Medicare imposed a 14.5% increase on premiums for Part B, outpatient coverage, in 2022 – a record high and nearly double that of the national inflation rate of 8.3%.
On a monthly basis, retirees and older Americans are paying $170.10 for Medicare Part B premium, an amount that is typically deducted directly from Social Security checks.
But Americans don't necessarily expect to spend so much on health care in retirement, and often fail to allocate enough money, Fidelity found. Couples retiring this year anticipate spending just $41,000 on medical expenses – well below the $315,000 average; when survey participants were informed of the much higher figure, they were alarmed and did not feel prepared to cover those costs during retirement.
Even more concerning is that two-thirds of survey respondents actually believe they would need less than $25,000 to pay for health-care related expenses during their retirement.
However, Americans felt much more prepared if they had invested in a health savings account, which lets individuals set aside pre-tax money to pay for qualified medical expenses. The analysis shows that nearly half of HSA holders feel prepared for health care retirement expenses, compared to just 27% of those without an HSA.
"By planning early and saving consistently, people can put themselves in a much stronger position to retire how and when they want," said Hope Manion, senior vice president at Fidelity Workplace Consulting.
The analysis comes as retired Americans confront sky-high inflation, with the price for everyday goods like rent, groceries and gasoline surging.
The Senior Citizens League, a nonpartisan group that focuses on issues relating to older Americans, estimated recently that Social Security recipients have lost 40% of their buying power since 2000 as a result of inflation.
"That’s the deepest loss in buying power since the beginning of this study in 2010," said Mary Johnson, a policy analyst at the Senior Citizens League who conducted the research.