Prescription for covering health-care costs

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Health-care costs will devour two-thirds of lifetime Social Security benefits for 65-year-old couples who retire today and a whopping 90 percent for those who retire at 65 in a decade, according to a March 2015 report from HealthView Services (HVS), which provides services to financial planners. That makes saving for health care a critical component of retirement planning.

Today’s retirees must pony up for supplemental coverage and expenses that Medicare doesn’t cover, such as vision and dental. Those costs, along with out-of-pocket expenses, are rising more quickly than are Social Security payments, two analysts tell Consumers Digest.

To prepare for this challenge, you should maximize your Social Security checks by waiting as long as possible before you start to collect benefits, says Ron Mastrogiovanni, who is the president of HVS.

“If someone who is at full retirement age today waited until age 70, they would increase benefits by 32 percent,” he says.

It also is important to scrutinize supplemental health-insurance plans, says Kathryn Votava, who is the president of Goodcare.com, which is a consulting company. In particular, she says, consumers should ensure that their plan covers a high number of prescriptions and that their doctors and hospitals are included in a plan’s network to avoid out-of-network costs.