NU Online News Service, March 28, 2005, 4:10 pm. EST

Fidelity Investments Inc., Boston, estimates that the average 65-year-old couple retiring today will need $190,000 to cover medical costs over the next 15 to 20 years.[@@]

That estimate is 8.6% higher than the $175,000 Fidelity calculated last year for post-retirement health care costs.

Fidelity includes in its estimate approximate expenses stemming from Medicare Part B and D premiums, Medicare cost-sharing provisions (copayments, coinsurance, deductibles and excluded benefits) and out-of-pocket prescription costs. It does not include over-the-counter medications, most dental services and long term care.

“The longer your retirement, the greater your risk,” warns Brad Kimler, senior vice president of health and welfare consulting for Fidelity Human Resources Services Company. “When planning for retirement, employees often fail to include this critical variable in their calculations.”

Employees can reduce the risk of high health care costs after retirement by leading healthier lifestyles, planning more actively for retirement, looking for ways to cut their current health care costs and saving more for future health care needs while they are still working, advises Fidelity.