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Six Steps You Can Take to Financial Prosperity

Six Steps You Can Take to Financial Prosperity

USA Today

No one can guarantee you a healthy and prosperous retirement. Life is just too unpredictable. But you can increase your odds of enjoying your twilight years in comfort by pursuing a regimen of common-sense steps. Here are six top ones:

Decide carefully on health care

You can do at least three things to help secure your health in retirement: Take care of yourself now to reduce the chance of illness later; save as much as you can; and review your insurance options.

Caring for yourself boils down to some basic wisdom: Exercise, eat right and don’t smoke. Those steps can help ward off such costly problems as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Your savings will come from limiting your hospitalizations and prescription drugs as you age.

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But even those with the best fitness plans can fall ill. And health care costs for retirees can be staggering. Fidelity Investments estimates that even with Medicare, an average 65-year-old couple must save more than $200,000 to cover 20 years of costs. That doesn’t include over-the-counter drugs or long-term care.

Once you’re eligible for Medicare — currently at age 65 — you must decide whether to join traditional Medicare or an alternative Medicare Advantage plan. The alternative plans may charge lower premiums than traditional Medicare, but they may also restrict your choices.

If you stay with traditional Medicare, keep in mind: On top of the premiums, you’ll have to shell out for co-pays and deductibles for doctor visits, hospital care and other services. Consider supplemental insurance for such costs. And retirees must also decide whether to take on the new Medicare drug benefit; it has a separate premium.

Medicare generally doesn’t cover most nursing home expenses, which can exceed $50,000 a year.

If you retire before you’re eligible for Medicare, see if you can stay on a company plan or if you qualify for an individual plan. If not, experts suggest delaying retirement.

“No one should go without health insurance,” says Gail Shearer of Consumers Union.

By Julie Appleby

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