Fidelity estimates that the average 65-year-old couple retiring this year will need $240,000 to cover all medical expenses during retirement. This number includes Medicare deductibles and copayments, premiums on doctor visits and prescriptions, and other expenses that Medicare doesn’t cover.
Hearing aids are included in that list of uncovered expenses, even though 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 are affected by hearing loss. That number jumps to 1 in 2 after age 75. And hearing loss treatment isn’t really optional when you consider that researchers have linked it to other health concerns like depression, dementia, and heart disease.
Given that 60% of workers have saved less than $25,000 for retirement, it’s clear that preparing for medical expenses later in life is tricky. However, the importance of doing so is paramount and the value of high-quality hearing health services is a responsible investment that is worth every penny.
An Overview of Retirement’s Medical Expenses
On average, Medicare-associated costs (deductibles, copayments, and premiums) for Medicare beneficiaries add up to about 15% of their household spending. If you enroll in the Medicare plan most typically chosen by retirees, your basic coverage will cost you about $3,000 per year in Medicare-associated costs.
Above and beyond those costs, some medical expenses must come completely out of pocket. You are responsible for the costs of dental care, eye care, and hearing care. Hearing tests are covered by Medicare plans only when they are deemed “medically necessary” (for instance, if you’re experiencing extreme vertigo or a traumatic ear injury). Other hearing tests, the hearing aids themselves, and routine cleanings and maintenance are not covered.
Hearing aids from hearing healthcare providers average between $2,000 and $3,400, depending on your needs and the level of technology included. What’s more, they need to be replaced every 4 years on average, and that’s only if they’ve been properly cared for and maintained. That cost can add up over time.
This is a good chunk of change, but it’s one that cannot be forgotten when you budget for retirement. In saving for hearing health, you’re investing in your relationships with loved ones, your engagement in the world around you, and your overall health. When you choose a private provider, you’re investing in high-quality health services that pay off over the long run.
Planning and Saving to Cover Medical Expenses
Planning for retirement’s medical expenses is difficult for a few reasons:
- It’s hard to know what your health-related needs will be when the time comes.
- Medicare and other types of insurance during retirement are very different from employer-subsidized premiums and coverage.
- America’s healthcare system is going through a time of turbulence and change.
- Medical costs are rising steeply (faster than inflation), and it’s difficult to predict where they’ll be in the future.
Many resources exist to help you adjust national medical cost averages to reflect your personal situation and needs. If possible, it’s a good idea to meet with a financial planner. But even with all this uncertainty, there are still steps you can take both before and during retirement to make it easier to manage retirement’s medical expenses.
First, it goes without saying that you should plan and start saving money as early as possible. If you’re on a high-deductible health plan, you should also look into a health savings account (HSA), which allows for tax-advantaged savings and withdrawals for healthcare expenses. If you qualify for one of these accounts, start making deposits as soon as you can; once you start using Medicare, you’re only able to withdraw from, not deposit into, an HSA.
However, it’s also important to take care of your body, starting now. This definitely applies to hearing health. Noise-induced hearing loss is more prevalent than ever before, so start taking care of your ears by lowering the volume of music and headphones and use ear protection when you’re doing yardwork with power tools or lawnmowers. Also avoid using cotton swabs to clean the inside of your ears, as they’re self-cleaning and a little wax is healthy for them. If you think your ears aren’t working as well as they once did, don’t hesitate to get them checked.
Once you’ve retired, consider whether it’s possible for you to take on a small income-generating job or activity. It can’t hurt to give your retirement income a little bit of a boost. It’s also a good idea to look into medigap plans (insurance that helps to cover the costs Medicare doesn’t pay).
You should reevaluate the estimates you’ve made regarding your annual healthcare costs periodically. Plan for variation in expenses from year to year that might come from a sudden illness or injury, and don’t forget to consider future long-term care needs as well.
With all this to consider, it’s extremely important to remember your ears. If you feel like everyone around you mumbles, if you need to turn the television’s volume up dramatically, or if you just feel like you’re not hearing everything going on around you, get your hearing checked by a hearing health professional. As many studies have linked hearing loss to cognitive decline and dementia, hearing evaluations are crucial during retirement age.
Paying for Hearing Aids
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of medical costs during retirement. You might be tempted to put saving for hearing health on the back burner, but please resist that urge. It’s important for your physical and mental health that you to get your hearing checked annually and take action as soon as you think you might have hearing loss.
The average American waits seven years before seeking treatment for noise- or age-related hearing loss. That’s seven years of important moments in your life and your family's lives. Seven years to let your hearing get progressively worse. Seven years of allowing your brain to forget how to process speech correctly. But that doesn’t have to happen.
Before retirement, make it a point to save whatever you can to ensure the future of your ears’ health. But what if you’re already retired or are close to retirement? Luckily, hearing aids do not have to be outside of your reach.
A good number of hearing health professionals offer financing options for hearing aids. Whether this is something like a monthly payment plan or Care Credit healthcare financing, ask your local provider for an option that works for you. These alternatives make it easy to invest in your health and happiness. You can find a list of other possible financial assistance programs here.
And that’s not the only good news; many professionals offer free screenings, adjustments, and device cleanings for the lifespan of your hearing aids. That’s one less expense you’ll have to prepare for when you’re planning for retirement. The value that comes with private practices’ passion and dedication to helping you live your life in a more fulfilling way is huge, and you can feel confident about your financial decisions when you invest in yourself in this way.
To find a trustworthy and reliable EarQ provider in your area, use our locator tool or call 800-338-0705 to find out about EarQ providers’ financing options. And don’t forget that the EarQ 4-Year Warranty, which comes with all EarQ hearing aids, is the longest protection in the U.S. With it, you can rest assured that your investment will be protected.