Health care in retirement is a big-ticket item. Experts estimate that an average 65-year-old retired couple in 2021 would need about $300,000 in after-tax savings earmarked for health care costs in their post-work life, even with Medicare, according to Fidelity.
The totals are daunting, but you can take steps to keep costs as low as possible with the right planning, good insurance choices and a healthy understanding of your conditions and coverage. Try these strategies — now and in retirement — to help control your health care bills.
1. Take advantage of an HSA
A health savings account allows you to put pretax money away for medical expenses. You can invest the funds, and both the principal and earnings are tax-free if you use them for eligible medical costs, today or in the future. This creates a powerful savings tool.
To use an HSA, you must have a high-deductible health plan. If that kind of plan makes sense for you, experts recommend saving money to your HSA and leaving it untouched for as long as possible. In 2021, you can save up to $3,600 pretax as a single person or up to $7,200 if you have family coverage.
“These accounts are the most tax-efficient plans available,” says Sallie Mullins Thompson, a certified public accountant and certified financial planner in New York City. “The main thing you need to do is contribute to it religiously whenever you can.”