health_care_costsFiguring out how to manage healthcare costs after retirement is one of the most difficult and challenging processes in adult life. Everyone needs to develop a plan because the future is unpredictable and most of us will incur an increasing number of healthcare costs as we age. Unlike many of our major expenses, healthcare costs are neither optional nor something we want to compromise on. Once we become unable to work full-time, we have to have some means of covering our healthcare expenses so that we can receive the services we need, preserve our quality of life, and not become a burden on our relatives and other loved ones.

The most important thing to keep in mind in healthcare retirement planning is to start as early as possible. While you are not able to control the future, the earlier you begin planning and saving to meet your retirement goals, the better you will be prepared to meet any unexpected challenges that come your way. By starting early and setting realistic goals, you can create a sound plan and enjoy both peace of mind and a good quality of life as you age.

Merrill Lynch has developed a very helpful free guide to help people plan for healthcare costs in retirement. In this guide, Merrill Lynch creates a three-step roadmap to plan for annual healthcare expenses in retirement: identify income sources to cover annual expenses; estimate costs using a high inflation rate to account for cost increases; and understand that costs may vary from what is expected based on changes in insurance, health, and laws.

Besides completing these three steps, it is also important to plan for long-term care needs. Today, about one in seven 65-year-olds will require long-term care by age 75. The chances of needing long-term care increase dramatically with age. To effectively plan for your healthcare expenses after retirement, it is necessary to consider how long you are likely to live, what type of care you may need, how long you may need care, the cost of care, and who will administer care. The answers to these questions may vary based on your gender, current health status, and proximity to family members and other potential caregivers. The Merrill Lynch guide offers several tips to help you start considering each of these points.

As you start to think about long-term care and post-retirement healthcare expenses, it is easy to get overwhelmed by staggering statistics and daunting six-digit figures. All the variables are difficult to manage, and the planning process can be both confusing and stressful. For help with long-term care planning and considering how to protect your assets while funding healthcare costs in retirement, get in touch with us at Elder Law of East Tennessee. We can offer guidance in thinking about gaining access to public benefits programs, setting up trusts, and creating an asset protection plan. We can also help you to navigate the ins and outs of long-term care. Give us a call at 865-951-2410 or send an e-mail to to get started today.