Consumer Tips

Your Golden Years: 5 Steps to a Happy, Healthy Retirement

When retirement is on the horizon, most Americans think about getting their finances in order. But while in the planning stages, it’s important to assess your health, as well. The investment you make in your health today will make your retirement more enjoyable — and save you money in the process.

Here are five steps to take now, while you’re still working:
  1. Schedule your annual checkups and recommended screenings.
    Regular screening can help you avoid health problems in retirement. Early detection can identify health problems at the onset — and either eliminate them or make them more manageable. Talk to your doctor about recommended screenings, based on your age and health history.
  2. Eat healthy and exercise.
    Staying active and eating right as you age reduces your risk of many chronic diseases. And it can improve your mood and boost your energy. Focus on eating nutrient-dense foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains. Limit your intake of saturated fats, added sugars and sodium. If you haven’t exercised in awhile, schedule your physical before your begin.
  3. Choose your health care providers.
    Take the time to find health care providers with whom you feel comfortable. Select a primary care physician, specialist for any existing conditions or special needs, an urgent care provider, and a full service hospital. Ask your friends and relatives for recommendations. Then see if the physicians and facilities you select will accept the insurance you’ll have when you retire. Planning up front lets you control the quality of care you receive — and manage you costs.
  4. Understand your health insurance options.
    Health care in retirement is expensive — even with Medicare and private insurance. A study by Fidelity Investments estimates a 65-year old couple will need $240,000 to cover their out-of-pocket health care costs if they spend 20 years in retirement.

    Take the time to understand how Medicare works. Medicare covers a lot of your expenses, but it doesn’t cover them all. So in addition to the cost of your Medicare coverage, you’ll probably want to purchase supplement insurance to fill in the gaps.

    If you plan to retire before age 65, you’ll need to look for health insurance outside of Medicare. You may be able to continue your current employer coverage under COBRA. If married, switching to your spouse’s plan may be an option. Or you could purchase a policy on your own through your local broker on the healthcare exchange.
  5. Don’t wait to replace your life insurance.
    Once you stop working, it’s likely you’ll lose the life insurance benefits your employer provides. The longer you wait to replace them, the more difficult it may be — especially if you develop health problems. The cash payment life insurance provides can help your family get by without your financial support or help a child you love with the cost of a good education. It can help a spouse offset Social Security and pension payments that reduce at the death of a husband or wife.

Originally published by Good Sam Life and Health Solutions.