One of the reasons we save for retirement is because medical costs invariably go up with age. Saving for your own eventual care, even if you’re healthy as a horse now, is wise. But recent projections suggest you may actually want to save a little more. Cost of care is expected to continue fluctuating, and after all, there’s no such thing as too much savings. Here’s what you need to know about how to prepare.
Healthcare is a substantial cost for most of us in our golden years. These costs tend to escalate across all demographics with age. The prudent investor, therefore, should be both informed and proactive.
Consider the wide variety of things you can expect to go wrong as you age. Frankly, we will all need care to some degree. If you’re very fortunate, that period may be confined to the end of your life. But if you’re like most Americans, you’ll likely experience a slower decline in general health. This is simply the price we all pay for living rich, full lives: aging gets us all regardless.
But let’s delve a little deeper into what types of circumstances can influence your personal healthcare costs. The sad reality is simply that those who manage chronic conditions or experience catastrophic events (the sort you’d associate with hefty insurance claims--accidents, sudden events like heart attacks or strokes, etc.) will face challenges on top of those that we all must. Every person reading this has good reason to save more than what seems essential for health care. That said, knowing that costs will be higher (or lower) for you can help you prepare properly and never have to worry about getting the care you need.
Health is deeply personal, and often frustratingly beyond our control. Here’s a shortlist of some of the things that determine these costs.
Known by the insurance world as “pre-existing conditions,” this category can cover a broad range of items. The extent and severity of a person’s health complications is the main factor that will determine costs for health insurance and routine care. Perfectly controlled conditions may even be costly to treat for populations like chronic pain patients and diabetics, who are often dependent on medications and require more frequent doctor’s visits (often with pricey specialists). Even if you’re lucky enough to be 100% able-bodied without so much as high blood pressure, congratulations. But that can change at any moment, as mere aging causes its own health issues.
Costs for women and female-identified individuals tend to be higher. One highly comprehensive 2016 study predicted a 30-year-old healthy woman can expect to pay $120,000 more for healthcare upon retirement.
None of us are safe from this one. The simple reality that $100 today won’t be the same as the day you retire is inescapable. Certain vehicles can help protect your dollars from inflation--both your CPA and attorney should be able to give personalized advice on these matters.
While none of us can make perfect predictions, it’s generally wise to estimate costs and figure in a 10-20% “buffer” for the unexpected. Just like when you’re building a pro forma for an investment. Your future care is absolutely a type of investment. Let’s look at some smart ways to plan ahead.
Building up a retirement savings account sufficiently is no small feat. So it’s completely fair to use every single tool at your disposal. The thing is, most of the tools you can use aren’t going to be advertised as healthcare solutions. The Solo 401(k) is a precise example of this type of tool: underrated, under-used, and underappreciated. Well, by most. You and I are about to know better.
The Solo 401(k) isn’t really that different from your typical 401(k) account. The essential feature that makes a Solo 401(k) a viable healthcare savings vehicle is Checkbook Control. Checkbook Control is finance slang for the ability to make nontraditional investments. While most accounts are going to be confined exclusively to the offerings of the institution in question, this isn’t so with self-directed accounts.
Note: Don’t let terms confuse you too badly here. The self-directed 401(k) is the same thing as the Solo-K. You may see variations in spelling or even fancy verbiage thrown around, but it’s the same type of Qualified Retirement Plan. There are however other self-directed accounts, but they tend to be IRAs. You can learn more about the self-directed IRA LLC and the IRA-Owned Self-Directed Business Trust right here on the Royal Legal Solutions site. These vehicles may also prove to be effective choices for you, as they share many key benefits. Learning about all of your retirement options, time permitting, is always a smart idea.
The solo-K can help you beef up your retirement savings easily because it confers these benefits (among many others):
Amidst both the expected fluctuations and life’s unexpected curveballs, the smart play is to do what you can to get the most out of your retirement savings. Of course, this begins with planning ahead. If you need some general retirement saving advice, check out this resource of tips that can help at any age. But let’s take the time to glance at some methods for saving.
Scott Royal Smith is an asset protection attorney and long-time real estate investor. He's on a mission to help fellow investors free their time, protect their assets, and create lasting wealth.
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