A survey from Fidelity Investments asked pre-retirees (ages 55-65) how much they will need for health care in retirement, and about half guessed they would need $100,000 per couple. The actual cost will be double that, at about $220,000, according to the company.
This isn't unusual, according to a report from The Washington Post, that reports that the stress of health care costs in retirement induce stress and denial: an AARP survey from this fall found that only 36 percent of people age 50 to 64 have even tried to estimate how much they need for health care in their golden years.
There are three factors that contribute to under preparation, Laura Skufca, who did the AARP research, told the Post: People overestimate how much Medicare will cover; ignorance of health care costs; and lack of planning because people believe they won't be able to cover the costs anyway.
This year's estimate is actually down 8 percent from last year, due in part to lower Medicare spending, the report says.
"While lower, this year's estimate is still daunting for many retirees, and it will consume a considerable amount of a couple's retirement savings," said Brad Kimler, executive vice president of Fidelity's Benefits Consulting. "It is extremely important that health care costs are factored into retirement savings strategies today so that retirees can be prepared to pay their medical bills throughout retirement."
Doom and gloom and denial aren't necessary, though, if people take care of their health and their retirement, according to Fidelity's numbers. It estimates that a person who is in excellent health will spend about 20 percent less on health care in retirement than a person in poor health.
"It actually has a big financial impact," John Sweeney, Fidelity's executive vice president of retirement and investing strategies told The Washington Post. "The linkage between them is really critical."