Everybody looks forward to retirement. I recently heard that 70% of today's employees are unhappy with their present jobs. Many are hoping that soon they can quit and enjoy the "leisurely days" of retirement. But will they really ever be able to do so? That is an interesting question. Few companies are now offering defined pension plans. The futures of social security and medicare are very uncertain. Most folks have not saved nearly enough to retire. And the growing question is how can a retiree handle exploding medical costs? Whenever I hear of somebody planning to retire I would like to ask them how they will handle their medical bills. Fidelity Investments recently conducted some polls and they found that over half of those considering retirement felt that $50,000 would be enough to cover their medical needs. Fidelity estimates that a couple of 65 year olds retiring in 2013 will need at least $220,000 to cover their medical insurances and bills. The good news is that this is an 8% drop in the previous year's estimate of $240,000. Now if medicare survives, it does provide some relief for those who purchase A and B and a D plan. But that will only cover about 66% of one's costs and does not include over the counter purchases, dental, hearing and vision costs. Nor does it cover long-term care needs which could wipe out one's savings. And medical bills are rapidly increasing and will continue to do so. Dianne recently had her annual colonoscopy and her bill was $3,294. I had a biopsy and my bill was $6,613. I had two cataract surgeries and my total bills for those were $18,153. Now medicare wrote off about half of these costs. But that means that a non-medicare patient probably will be billed more for the doctors to regain these medicare write offs. Medicare took care of 80% of the remainder of these charges and our gap policy and personal savings took care of the rest. In addition, because of special physical needs that we have, for the first five months of this year are medicines have cost us $5,460. And to help with those costs our insurances for the first six months of this year have cost us $4,176. With those costs and other bills we have shelled out $8,332 in medical bills for the first six months of this year. That is a chunk of money for anyone, retired or not. Now I am not sharing this to gain any pity. Far from it. I am just sharing the facts. I thank the Lord for relatively good health and for the resources to pay the bills. If we would have had problems with hospitalizations and major surgeries and maybe even nursing home care, it would be much worse. And those things do become more common the older you become. So I think Fidelity's estimate of $220,000 is not too high. And I warn any of you who are nearing retirement to make sure that you have counted the costs. Retirement is great when you are healthy and can pay the bills. But it is a real challenge when the cost of everything continue to rise and your income doesn't. Of course Obama care will take care of all of these medical concerns. It will probably do that by eliminating surgeries and refusing adequate care for those who are over 70. So more seniors will just pass on more quickly with less care and less expense. And, of course, euthanasia will most likely be the next step. But then we seniors should probably better be able to more fully agree with Paul's comments, "For to me to live is Christ, but to die is gain".
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