Thursday, April 17, 2008

Medical Expenses in Retirement

Liz Pulliam Weston, at MSN Money has a new post: Will Medical Bills Ruin Retirement?

This is scary stuff to those of us within ten years of retirement.

It is clear that medical expenses will be THE BIG EXPENSE for me. Including private coverage, Medicare, and long-term care insurance, there goes all the money I will save each month by no longer having a mortgage. Then again, that is the point of getting my mortgage out of the way--so I WILL have dollars available for whatever happens to me medically.

My parents did not leave me with an encouraging genetic history. Strokes, type II diabetes and heart disease run rampant in the family tree on both sides. Fortunately for my peace of mind, there's no cancer to speak of, but who knows what environmental factors play into the onset of cancer, anyway.

I've been a non-insulin-dependent diabetic for the last ten years. I assume I will live longer than my parents because I aggressively treat my high blood pressure and high cholesteral, both of which are, with medication, within normal limits. Unless there is chocolate in the immediate vicinity, I also manage my diabetes pretty well. But there's no getting around the fact that I will have medical issues in retirement and that they may well be significant.

Weston's analysis is interesting though a bit flawed. She seems to assume that retirees have not considered increased medical costs during retirement and will need additonal funds to meet those costs. Speaking for myself, I have tried to factor those in while determining just how much I'll need to maintain my desired standard of living.

The biggest issue I see for my situation is getting long-term care insurance. I should be looking for it now, but realistically, it will be a couple more years before I've got my debts reduced to the point that I can afford it (at which time, it will be even MORE expensive--one of those moving targets I can never quite reach!)

Weston is looking for a political answer. So am I, but the track record in the US when it comes to health policies has never been a good one.


louise said...

Hi Grace, the medical expenses are a worry, expecially once we reach middle age and realise we are not bullet proof! I have tagged you for a meme :)

Bill said...

well, do you like to travel?

my mom became ill in her 50s (a rare, non-Alzheimer's dementia)

just a couple of years after diagnosis, she had declined to the point of needing full-time nursing care (no acute medical needs - just to be fed, changed, etc.)

after some very frustrating experiences w/ local nursing homes, I found a group of expats who had had good experinces with their local facility in Guadalajara, so they decided to market that to U.S. families.

mom got much better care down there for almost 6 years until her death.

even with 2x caregiver/patient ratio it was cheaper - 1/2 the price, even w/ a private room

mom was too young/lacked work credits for any public benefits (e.g. SS disability, Medicare)

Katy McKenna said...

You might want to check out your current eligibility for long term care insurance, also. My SIL, age 57, was flatly turned down! She'd had a episode of dizziness which landed her in the hospital. They couldn't come to a firm diagnosis. Although it has never recurred, the insurance company said NO WAY. She is now looking into the kind of long term care place where you plunk down a huge chunk of change, then pay a monthly payment, but they take care of you as your needs progress.