How to be Financially Stable in Your Golden Years
Nearing retirement can be a time of fear and panic for many– some find it too terrifying to cut the income cord for good, while others simply don’t have enough saved to quit working. Before you retire, here are a few things that you need to consider.
Aside from making sure legal documents such as your will and power of attorney are in order, planning for health care costs during retirement is something that everyone should be thinking about, regardless of age.
Retirees have two choices for health insurance: Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare consists of Parts A through D—with the participant signing up for whatever “parts” they choose.
— Part A covers hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care.
— Part B covers certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services.
— Part C is health coverage that is government regulated but offered by private insurance companies.
— Part D covers prescription drugs.
Medicare enrollees who have limited income and assets (which can be proven with a five year look-back) may get help paying for their premiums and out-of-pocket medical expenses through Medicaid. Medicaid also covers additional services beyond those provided under Medicare, including nursing facility care beyond the 100-day limit, prescription drugs, eyeglasses, and hearing aids.
What Isn’t Covered
Unfortunately, while most people assume that Medicare covers all of one’s health care costs, this is actually far from the truth. And this is also where retirees meet financial disasters. Start by researching what Medicare doesn’t cover. For example, in many circumstances, the retiree is on the hook for 20% of their Part B expenses. Or, if they need skilled nursing after a hospital stay, Medicare will pick up the bill for the full Medicare-allowed rate for the first 20 days. After that, you’ll pay a part of the cost for up to 100 days (around $141.50 per day). After 100 days of consecutive care, you’ll be paying the bill. Another surprising service that isn’t covered — hearing aids that can sometimes costs thousands of dollars.
One way to mitigate a possible financial disaster is by having “medigap” insurance in addition to Medicare coverage. This “extra” coverage can be purchased from a private insurance company and is used to pay health care costs not covered by Medicare, such as co-payments, deductibles, and health care if you travel outside the U.S.
As we see, it’s entirely possible that a retiree can outlive their savings– a person with $1,000,000 who needs long term care would run out of cash in less than five years! So what should you do if you’re thinking about retirement but fear that you don’t have enough money?
How do I know what’s enough?
It helps to meet with a financial advisor who can help you figure out how much money you’ll be retiring with– including retirement accounts, saving accounts, and social security checks– and what your monthly expenses will realistically be. With this information, you can make decisions as to when (and if!) you’ll retire, and whether you’ll need to downsize, find a more affordable community, or even set yourself up to work part-time.
Sara Glaz received her undergraduate degree in Economics from U.C.L.A. She’s currently a financial advisor at Munk Wealth Management in Hewlett, New York and writes regularly for Mishpacha magazine. Sara welcomes questions and comments. Please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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