The number of infants born in the US jumped significantly after World War II and continued to increase through the mid-1960s. Social scientists believe it was the result of the thousands of WWII veterans returning home to a booming economy and GI Bill benefits that provided access to home ownership, encouraging them to marry and start families. These infants born between 1946 and 1964 are known as baby boomers.
The oldest boomers are well past age 65 and those born at the end of the range will be there soon. According to the most recent US census, the Medicare population is expected to double, along with the number of people drawing Social Security benefits and qualifying for Medicare insurance. Healthcare costs may also increase for approximately 63 million existing Medicare beneficiaries and those “aging in,” as they experience the aging process and health issues that are likely to develop.
Little has been written about how unprepared boomers are as they find themselves living longer and working past age 65. Unlike the prior generation, boomers must sometimes navigate the post-65 Medicare enrollment process and deal with episodes of illness that can strike unexpectedly. Many boomers are also unprepared for the cost of healthcare premiums and out-of-pocket costs for certain procedures, prescription drugs and non-covered medical expenses.
In 2023, the standard Medicare Part B premium is $164.90 per month. Unless another entity pays the premium, Medicare beneficiaries must pay as long as they have Medicare Part B. Some Medicare beneficiaries pick up a Medicare Advantage, prescription drug or Medigap plan (Medicare Supplemental Insurance) at an additional ongoing cost. According to Fidelity Investments, the average 65-year-old couple retiring today can expect to pay $275,000 in out-of-pocket health expenses in their lifetimes. At a minimum, boomers need to ask their financial advisors how they will cover these costs in retirement and plan ahead. Boomers need to acknowledge that with longevity comes the need to set aside funds to cover out-of-pocket healthcare costs to stay on track for a healthy and happy retirement.