How much do people need for health care in retirement? Probably double what they think

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • common sense in Idaho Pocatello, id
    April 6, 2014 2:10 a.m.

    Carman - so tell us about your ideas about important health care reform in the US that would lower health care costs and make it more affordable.

    The other day I spent 90 minutes in the emergency room for what I thought could be a heart attack. I went just to be safe and not sorry. I sat there for 90 minutes for observation and just got a bill for $4200. No tests run, nothing.

    So what can be done about this?

  • carman Wasatch Front, UT
    April 3, 2014 1:40 p.m.

    UT Brit:

    Unfortunately, most of the world is living in lala land when it comes to real medical costs. You and the rest of Europe are beneficiaries of the good 'ole USA's very innovative and productive pharmaceutical, biologics, medical device and medical technology industries. Essentially U.S. corporations, insured entrepreneurs and governments (federal, state and local) who pay astronomically high prices for health care for their employees are subsidizing the R&D that has brought the large majority of medical innovation over the past 50+ years. I would hate to be subject to healthcare ANYWHERE in the world that lacked U.S. originated medicine, medical devices and medical technology. You my friend have access to reasonably good healthcare because U.S. consumers have largely footed the bill for the incredible innovation that you enjoy.

    BTW - I never argued that the U.S. healthcare system was great. I simply argued that hiding the true cost via socialized medicine was detrimental. I have argued for important reforms in the U.S., but going the way Europe went would be bad not only for the U.S., but for the entire world.

  • Fred44 Salt Lake City, Utah
    April 3, 2014 11:36 a.m.

    If Paul Ryan's budget passes, you will need even more than $200,000 to survive.

  • UT Brit London, England
    April 3, 2014 3:04 a.m.


    PPP is a poor way of determining standard of living. The US compared to Canada for example has a higher PPP, but because of the high income inequality in the US (your money is concentrated in a very small percentage of the population) it skews the figures.

    Things are expensive in Norway, but they have strong social programs. Higher education is paid for and they have excellent health care.

    I have also travelled around the world and it astounds me that people who also claim to have travelled still think the US healthcare system is better than UHC. If I had continued to live in the US my kids would never be able to get insurance. My father would not have been able to start his own business if he lived in the US because of health problems I had as a child. UHC is just good common sense from an economic standpoint, it makes me laugh when people say the US has the best healthcare system in the world. I can only assume they have never experienced anything else.

  • carman Wasatch Front, UT
    April 2, 2014 7:23 p.m.

    One other point. These are VERY small countries with very small economies. The combined GDP of all three was only about 8% of US GDP. I say this not to say that small is bad, but they are VERY dependent on local circumstances and natural resources. Because of the outsized impact of petroleum, and the very small populations, huge per capita subsidies are possible.

    One more point on Norway. There have been concerns for years INSIDE of Norway about their dependence on oil prices and reserves, and the lack of competitiveness of their private industries/companies due to the very high cost of living and cost of labor. If their oil industry were to diminish in its productivity (almost a certainty over the next 30 years), they will face significant adjustment challenges.

    Best of wishes to you (and Norway).

    p.s. My family is from Denmark. I love the place. But we immigrated 170 or so years ago to the USA. Not a bad choice by my 4th great grandparents!

  • carman Wasatch Front, UT
    April 2, 2014 7:14 p.m.

    To UT Brit:

    Cuckoo land? I have traveled the world many times over, and have a fairly reasonable understanding regarding economic differences by county. How about some data?

    PPP (purchasing power parity) per capita income in the U.S. is more than 20% greater than either Denmark or Sweden (World Bank data). Normway is higher than the U.S., with the key difference coming from huge per capita subsidies from its massive North Sea Oil industry. And Norway is by some measures, the MOST EXPENSIVE country in the world to live in. According to the Big Mac Index, Norway is #1 most expensive, with a Big Mac costing $9.73 (more than 3X the cost in the U.S.). Have you hailed a cab in Norway? Bought a gallon of milk.

    The oil & gas industry in Norway makes up 50% of all exports. When downstream petrochemicals are added in, it approaches 60%. I wouldn't want to live in Norway the day O&G are no longer available to export. It is the lifeblood of their economy, without which their standard of living would be decimated.

    I would much rather be in the innovative USA than any of these countries, as beautiful as they are.

  • UT Brit London, England
    April 2, 2014 3:11 a.m.


    Lower standard of living???? How much time have you spent in Sweden, Norway, Denmark etc.? If you think that the US has the same overall standard of living as those countries you are in cuckoo land.

    "health care in old age cost big money"

    Yes it does, you say Europe pays higher taxes for healthcare, why does the US spend double per person on healthcare compared to Europe then? If European healthcare is too expensive, what does that make the US?

    BTW youth unemployment in the US is around 17%, overall Europe (including the poor Eastern block) is at 21%. You might want to look up some figures and check your maths.

    Things are a bit more expensive in western Europe, but at least we dont have to worry about saving $100,000 to $200,000. My Grandfather is 86 and gets excellent care in my country at no cost to himself. He is able to live comfortably and has no worries or stress about his healthcare.

  • Gregorio Norco, CA
    April 1, 2014 6:19 p.m.

    Progressive countries are going bankrupt. The USA was built on self reliance and taking care of our selves and our own not the government.
    Health care cost money so we need to work to pay for it not have someone else like I am for Medicare.
    Individual Medical Retirement accounts hold responsible citizens accountable for themselves.
    The poor will always be with us so YES we must take care of the poor but that should not cost me 6.2 cents of every dollar I earn!

  • carman Wasatch Front, UT
    April 1, 2014 5:30 p.m.

    To Ernest T. Bass:

    Yes, even in "progressive" countries, health care in old age cost big money. In the case of "progressive countries, however, that burden is shifted to young workers in the form of higher prices, higher taxes, a lower standard of living and higher unemployment. Europe is paying for its progressive sins of the past as we speak. Our day of reckoning is still a couple of decades off, but it is coming as we have been following down that same path for the past 30-50 years, but at a more measured pace.

    BTW, if you like Europe, go ahead and retire in one of these progressive countries. You will find housing costs that are sky-high, and everything from plumbing to groceries is significantly higher than you are used to. And if you are young and in one of these places, the unemployment rate even for highly skilled young college grads (think engineering or computer science), is double-to-triple what it is here in the U.S.A.

    Please, don't wish for a "progressive" state. We just might get one.

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    April 1, 2014 1:11 p.m.

    Weston Jurney:

    Just an addition to what you mentioned. The DN article had a direct link to the research and how the number was derived. Here is the "fine print" section copy and pasted from the research article:

    "Based on a hypothetical couple retiring in 2012, 65 years or older, with average (82 male, 85 female) life expectancies. Estimates are calculated for "average" retirees, but may be more or less depending on actual health status, area of residence, and longevity. Assumes individuals do not have employer-provided retiree health care coverage, but do qualify for Medicare. The calculation takes into account cost sharing provisions (such as deductibles and coinsurance) associated with Medicare Part A and Part B (inpatient and outpatient medical insurance). It also considers Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) premiums and out-of-pocket costs, as well as certain services excluded by Medicare. The estimate does not include other health-related expenses, such as over-the-counter medications, most dental services and long-term care."

  • Weston Jurney West Jordan, UT
    April 1, 2014 10:52 a.m.

    Baffling article. Do this writer and this organization not know that there is such a thing as a Medicare Supplement insurance plan that will cover 100% of Medicare-approved medical expenses not covered by Medicare itself? There are prescription drug plans out there too, that will meet the needs of most people. Why do you need $200,000 or any other fixed amount when you can pay a monthhly premium and have your expenses covered?

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    April 1, 2014 10:06 a.m.

    Nothing, if they lived in a progressive country.

  • carlyt ny, NY
    April 1, 2014 9:29 a.m.

    A good incentive to stay healthy as you age. Stay physically active, mentally sharp and socially engaged to remain healthy. there are many sites that provide information on health as you age. I just read several good posts on fitness, health and nutrition on the site Retirement And Good Living.